COMMENT

What exactly are we afraid of?

MARIA KATSOUNAKI

TAGS: Survey

Each time an opinion poll seeks to explore the convictions of Greek society, as opposed to its political preferences, the findings expose the prevalence of conservatism, xenophobia and increasingly right-wing reflexes.

Right or wrong? The Prorata survey, which was published on Thursday in the Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper, came up with some interesting areas of consensus as well as polarization. For example, asked, “What, in your opinion, are the two most significant issues/problems facing Greece today?”, 45 percent said migration/refugee issues, 22 percent said corruption and 21 percent said unemployment and low salaries. 

Fifty-five percent of respondents said they agree or probably agree with the statement that immigration is linked to a rise in crime. However, 89 percent said that their neighborhood is a safe place and 82 percent that Greece is a safe country. 

According to the same poll, a 58 percent majority had a positive opinion of recent police operations to evacuate squats in central Athens as well as raids on university premises. However, respondents were divided on the question of whether police protect citizens, with 49 percent giving a negative response over 48 percent who said “yes.” 

A similar division emerged on the question of whether the police have been overtaken by authoritarian and far-right convictions. Half of the respondents disagreed with the above statement, while 48 percent agreed.

The question inevitably arises: What exactly are we afraid of if more than 80 percent consider the neighborhood and the country they live in to be a safe place?

The thin line between prudence and authoritarianism – as well as the line between civic liberties and impunity – shifts without coming to a steady position. This is why pundits, politicians and the media should show great caution. Bias cultivates enmity and estrangement. Either one deifies law and order or demonizes it as a synonym for dictatorship. 

The great imbalance brought about by the crisis is constantly evolving, and so is fear. The dividing line grows thinner and the only way to distance ourselves from the hyperbole and the gains that it secures for politicians as well as the media is to refrain from condemning moderation as conservatism. 

Refraining from moderation is very photogenic – if only for a few minutes. However, it takes a toll on the quality of arguments. Every victory for the extremes is a defeat for prudence and a step forward for authoritarianism.

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