Nikos Konstandaras NIKOS KONSTANDARAS

Beyond the dust in the arena

COMMENT

TAGS: Politics, Society

Nine out of 10 Greeks have no confidence in the country’s political system, according to a poll conducted by the European Council on Foreign Relations and YouGov which was released Thursday.

And yet, as elections for the European Parliament approach (scheduled to take place in Greece on May 26, along with local elections), our political protagonists not only ignore Europe and Greece’s future in it, not only do they avoid seeking consensus to solve national issues, but they duel in a climate of ever greater polarization.

Fascinating though these jousts may be, citizens understand that they do not lead to solutions. That is why 56 percent believe that the political system in Greece is “completely broken,” 36 percent that it is “somewhat broken,” while 6 percent believe that it “works somewhat well,” 1 percent that it “works very well” and 1 percent “don’t know.”

Leftist SYRIZA and other parties that – before the crisis – were on the fringes of the political scene found themselves in lead roles when the political center collapsed. Now they, too, are affected by voters’ suspicions.

The government’s much-touted “moral advantage” exists only in its cadres’ delusions. What will our politicians do to instill confidence in our political system? If they fail, which “anti-systemic” forces will take their place?

The burden of responsibility lies mainly with the government. It is, obviously, in power; it has the most opportunities to invest in polarization and confusion.

New Democracy is not in government and not in a position to hand out money in an effort to make its opponents look like stingy enemies of the people. But even if it concentrates on producing ideas and programs, if the conservative party does not respond to attacks, it risks appearing weak in the news media, on social media and in citizens’ eyes.

That is why we voters have the duty to look beyond the dust in the arena, to judge whether the country will make progress with SYRIZA’s handouts and what the party represents or with what New Democracy proposes. What will contribute to creating confidence? Persistence with fantasies or adapting to reality?

Perhaps because we do not expect miracles, the ECFR/YouGov poll found that half of Greeks feel “stressed,” the highest percentage in the 14 countries polled. In addition, 57 percent of Greeks fear that the European Union could fall apart in the next 20 years.

Even at this late stage, then, a few days before the elections, our politicians would do well to consider two things: They may be indifferent to Europe but their voters are not; they may be enthralled by their domestic battles, the citizens are not.

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