The developments inside centrist To Potami and nationalist Independent Greeks are not just a result of the developments surrounding the Prespes agreement, tactical maneuvering and trade-offs with ruling SYRIZA – they are also the result of a more general crisis in our political system. They are the result of the inability of some of our elected officials to respond to the demands of a rapidly shifting and turbulent reality.
You can’t help but show some leniency for human frailty. You can’t expect certain parliamentary representatives to stand up to so much pressure and blackmail and make decisions that will address the country’s biggest problems when they are faced with a society that is both toxic and deeply divided (and for which they are greatly to blame).
However, every citizen and voter, regardless of their political beliefs, reserves the right to get angry when he or she sees one lawmaker going out to get a drink in the middle of a parliamentary vote on a major issue, another blaming his failure to carry out promises that he would resign on car trouble (among other tactics), and a third, a SYRIZA MEP and vice president of the European Parliament, not turning up at all for a vote on recognizing Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela. The reason for the latter’s absence from the vote was so that he wouldn’t have to vote against the motion, in line with his party’s position but against the decision that was adopted by the European Parliament.
These three incidents (which relate specifically to Aristeidis Fokas, Thanasis Papachristopoulos and Dimitris Papadimoulis, in that order) are a whole lot more than what teenagers would describe as “playing hooky.” They are also not the only ones of their kind in these times of overt and covert political games, though they are indicative of the prevalent attitudes and atmosphere. As is the collapse of To Potami, which has unraveled amid a barrage of accusations and innuendos among the deputies still sticking with the centrist party.
The truth is that we simply do not have enough politicians equal to the task of dealing with the problems facing the country. Instead, we are obliged to muddle along with what we’ve got. That said, voters are perfectly capable of distinguishing weakness from self-inflicted degradation. They can forgive the former, but they will punish the latter. All they have to do now is figure out how they can mete out the punishment without harming themselves – because when they last went to the polls four years ago, they wanted to punish to the old political establishment.