Maria Katsounaki MARIA KATSOUNAKI

Gluttons for scandal

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TAGS: Politics

During a parliamentary debate on political party and media funding, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis asked leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras the following rhetorical question: “How many Lagarde lists and how many Papastavrous can Greek society tolerate?” He was referring to the list of Greeks with deposits at an HSBC branch in Geneva and the former adviser of ex-premier Antonis Samaras, Stavros Papastavrou, whose name featured on the same list.

What Mitsotakis was asking is how long can society be expected to put up with the government’s efforts to disorient the people and hide the extent of the country’s problems. Tsipras, for his part, insisted on asking, “Who had the nerve and the criminal will to allow the refinancing of bankrupt political parties and media companies?”

Friday’s performance was just a variation on the same theme: invoking the past to cover up the present. On the one hand we have the threat of damaging revelations, and on the other, a society that eats up scandals and revolting behavior that chokes the intellect and crushes the spirit – and we all wonder: Until when? The more that credibility as a force that can safeguard democracy is invoked, the more it becomes belittled.

The distortion of reality could lead to “bipolar politics,” the head of the main opposition party warned. The equilibrium, however, is already exceptionally fragile and elections are not a magical solution. If there is one thing the government’s lies don’t do, it is hold any promise of an exit from the crisis.

What’s more, it has exhausted all its chances of buying a bit more time. That said, whoever were to take over the governance of this country right now would not be able to avoid more austerity. Cooperation could have been a solution if the government had not demolished every notion of consensus and trust.

Yet however much it may look as though Greece is at a complete dead end, it is not. Because whatever policy is chosen, austerity will be enforced. So the question is whether it will be on a society that is vibrant and evolving, or one that is heavy with scandal-mongering and exhausted.

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