In Sunday’s edition of Kathimerini, opposition chief Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote an op-ed titled “Let us write our own history,” in which he rightly stressed that Greece’s challenge is to exit the crisis, start doing well and regain international confidence and credibility, along with its place in a rapidly changing Europe and world, instead of becoming obsessed with issues that belong in the past and are no longer pertinent.
It was also obvious that the president of New Democracy was seeking to shake his party out of the impasse and meaningless confrontation with the leftist-led government on Stalinism, Nazism and general totalitarian regimes of the past that was sparked by a conference organized by the European Union’s presidency in Tallinn last week. Mitsotakis has also called a meeting today in order to brief officials on the party line outlined in his article.
The opposition chief is clearly concerned by the fact that the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition is still able – after so many failures and demonstrations of its incompetence – to set the agenda of public dialogue, to exaggerate or downplay issues, to elude those that are most pressing, to distort reality and to polarize at will. Likewise, he is concerned about officials in his party allowing themselves to get carried away in shadow-boxing matches with the government.
This often happens with the help of the media and certain journalists, because it suits their goals, because they are playing sides or because they are expressing their own ideological hang-ups. However, there is a serious problem when the media’s behavior serves the immediate goals of the government and opposition lawmakers and officials willingly allow themselves to be used just for the sake of a few minutes in the limelight. New Democracy unfortunately suffers from this shortcoming, possibly because not all of its MPs and officials have well-honed political standards (as is the case in every party, after all).
Therefore, the approach to the problem needs to come from the top, with the establishment of a small committee that will respond quickly to every fresh controversy and deliver the party line after consulting with the president. This is not a task for the party spokesman alone, as it has been observed that the government’s efforts at polarization rely on raking up the past in an effort to escape the present.
It is clear that New Democracy must find a way to shape the agenda of public dialogue itself with issues that pertain to the present and expose the government – there are enough of them to be sure.