Unlike in team sports, there is no halftime in politics. You get no time to rest, to recuperate, or to revise your strategy so that your team can raise its game and respond to the latest developments. Nor are there any time-outs, such as in basketball, volleyball or water polo – those brief breaks in play that allow you to undercut the opponent’s momentum or plan your next attack.
That’s too bad, because all political parties could use one. Even more so in recent years, as political time has become denser and political developments have become more crucial, putting an enormous strain on the minds of politicians and parties alike.
As far as the leftist-led government is concerned, a time-out would help clarify the relationship between the two coalition parties, SYRIZA and Independent Greeks (ANEL), and to examine the damage (not just on a PR level) inflicted by the initiatives of ANEL chief and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos. Kammenos is allowed to act as an independent force, using the armed forces to his own ends as he casually indulges in hammed-up sentimentalism and cheap populist antics.
A time-out would also give SYRIZA an opportunity (especially if the leadership had not sidelined the party’s collective decision-making bodies) to rethink the embarrassing and politically void excuses along the lines of “At least we are not as bad as you were” and “Believe me, it hurt me to vote.”
A time-out would also allow us to see – provided they had the necessary courage and honesty – the extent to which the long chain of SYRIZA’s inconsistencies and self-contradictions have altered the party’s character. Like the snakes that wrapped around Laocoon, preventing him from realizing that power is not a value in itself.
The opposition could also use a time-out. It would allow New Democracy to re-examine the quality of its political rhetoric rather than warm up for ministerial positions. The new conservative leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has already made a number of spectacular U-turns, especially over his call for elections “here and now.” In so doing, he may have appeased the hard-line faction of his conservative party, but this faction is not the best to conquer the political center.
As for Greece’s centrist parties, they too could benefit from a time-out, provided of course that what they are in fact missing is time, and not solid ideas and directness.
Only two parties out there do not need a time-out, each for their own reasons. The Communist Party (KKE) has placed itself outside the time continuum. The other is Golden Dawn. Repeated delays in the criminal trial of the neofascist party, the disappearance of case files incriminating several of its members, and the shelving of charges in connection with racist assaults in 2011 have given GD precious time for political camouflage.