If we focus on the present, Thurday’s debate in Parliament on the quality of public dialogue was disheartening. Again, we were witness to a parade of insults, innuendo, evasions, hyperbole, injustice and distortions. The aim, as always, was for each speaker to strike as heavy a blow as possible against the other.
However, if we look to the future, we may have cause for some hope: in the ugliness of the past few days we saw a new understanding (between parties and among the citizens) that the situation which allowed unacceptable behavior is now past.
Although the leaders of opposition parties were unable to overcome tradition and engage in serious discussion on the government’s proposals aimed at preventing sexual violence and abuse of authority, there is no doubt that things are changing.
The prime minister is aware that despite the extreme and often meaningless political confrontation, the recent revelations, the judicial process that they prompted and the legal framework that is being shaped, can create a new state of things in society and in the labor environment.
Stressing that in Greece in 2021 no one should live in fear and silence, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said: “Let this be the message that will come out of this hall when the lights of publicity have died down, when the rough language of the political dialogue softens.”
This discussion, he said, should not only have a “cathartic dimension,” but also “an essential dimension as to what may happen in the future.”
Whoever thinks of abusing power to exert violence, should be aware that “it is very likely that they will find themselves facing the consequences of their actions,” he declared.
Several years after the #MeToo movement spread across the world, Greek society and the state appear ready to listen to the victims here, too, and to deal with abuse seriously.
The social condemnation of such behavior and the measures proposed by the government signal a tectonic shift in outlook: from tacit acceptance that the strong do what they will with impunity, to the renewed demand that the laws must apply to all – protecting the weak, controlling the powerful, punishing and reforming those who violate them.