Political culture under the spotlight: Karamanlis meets Stephanopoulos

The great political derby is not only well under way but is setting its own rules. Every appearance by the two «gladiators» – New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou, PASOK’s candidate – causes a stir, not only in the press but in the city’s traffic. Thursday afternoon, when President Costis Stephanopoulos received Karamanlis in his office, traffic was stopped from entering Vassileos Georgiou and Irodou Attikou streets. Karamanlis walked from his office on Rigillis Street to the Presidential Palace accompanied by party spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos. Naturally there was a security blitz and, as always happens when the president receives political party leaders, it was personally supervised by Lt. Gen. Antonis Pavlidis and the head of the presidential guard, Athanassios Kontomitros. Political correspondents and photographers had taken up positions from an early hour, eager for the latest photo opportunity, but they didn’t see Karamanlis arrive, relaxed and smiling (although not wearing a scarf), in a blue suit and blue-striped tie, darker than that worn by Roussopoulos. Light blue is the color that will be worn on March 7 and the scarf is the trademark of the altera pars! Outside there was sunshine, inside flash bulbs, as Karamanlis entered the president’s office where he was warmly welcomed with a handshake and a fatherly smile by President Stephanopoulos. Karamanlis presented his proposals for the election campaign which give priority to ethos, truth, respect for his opponent and for the environment, especially with regard to the noise pollution from loudspeakers that has always been such an unpleasant feature of the election campaigns. Of course, the press heard none of the discussion but waited for statements outside. All the television channels were there, as well as the foreign news agencies, shoving their microphones between the security guards, under the indifferent eye of the Evzones, the presidential guards. Karamanlis said his four proposals constitute rules for a political debate. «We want a political dialogue that will be contemporary, sincere, civilized, without insults, and with respect for the other viewpoint – a dialogue focused on people’s real problems and the solutions we propose to deal with them,» he said before walking off again with Roussopoulos.

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