COMMENT

Our eye is off the ball

By Nikos Konstandaras

Our politicians play at politics. They abdicated the difficult role cast upon them by the May 6 ballot and, in going for new elections, they have left the economy and society adrift. The crisis has changed the relationship between our political parties but not their behavior. Politics involves management of today and creating strategy for tomorrow. But, for decades, politics in Greece has been in regression, between unfinished business and utopia.

SYRIZA is basking in its election success, both at home and in foreign media, as if it had been hiding in the mountains and in the hearts of much of the population for decades after the civil war, and now the time has come for the left?s victory -- not only in Greece but all Europe. New Democracy has sounded the bugle to marshal the forces of the right, the center, the middle class, so Greece will not topple from united Europe?s wagon. PASOK, wounded and humbled, is trying to stay on its feet; the Communist Party and the Democratic Left (like a stern grandmother and her spinster granddaughter) are each engrossed in baking the tried and tested mash of grand words and meager deeds. The Independent Greeks are setting sail for oil riches and Russian rubles.

In their megalomania, each party is trapped in the language, narrative and mentality of the past. Unable to manage their victories and defeats, our politicians (old and new) do what they learned to do for so long: play roles they cannot break out of. Scared of each other, seeing nothing but each other, they cannot compromise. We see this in the result of their words and their deeds: They care nothing for citizens.

Amid all the talk of staying in the eurozone or exiting, of changing or rejecting the bailout agreement, the country?s revenues are shrinking and production withering. The French experts who were helping us reform the public administration (one of Greece?s greatest plagues) have no one to talk with and have left. Nothing has been done to improve services, which could offset the many deprivations our citizens have suffered. Soon we will be paying for our medicines ourselves, in the hope of being reimbursed by our social security funds. When we go to the ATM, we are not sure whether it will still have money next time. Looking at the foreign media, we see that everyone is concerned only with how much damage we will cause by dropping out of the euro, not how this wounded nation will survive the crisis.

Our need to reshuffle the deck with new elections makes it look like the result of May 6 was just a bad hand in a game of poker. It shows that our political class cannot see beyond itself.

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