OPINION

Some of the old Greece, a bit more of the new

some-of-the-old-greece-a-bit-more-of-the-new

Greece needs people like Alex Patelis in public posts. In other words, it needs people who have accomplishments under their belt, who think creatively and, occasionally, out of the box; it needs people who are obsessed with reforms and are allergic to the cursed such-things-are-impossible mantra. 

If we did not have people like the prime minister’s chief economic adviser, our political system – regardless of what party is in power – would appoint mediocre incompetents to key positions on the grounds of political affiliation only. It’s a deep-rooted habit even amid the ranks of the country’s reformist-minded politicians. There are very few exceptions.

Your typical politician who has evolved all the way from the party grassroots detests anyone who they see as invading their turf. The two political paradigms are worlds apart. In the former, each and every decision hinges upon a single criterion: political cost assessment. You must always make sure that the bureaucracy and the vested interests are not negatively affected by a policy decision. The latter paradigm is about changing things fast in order to achieve results.

The truth is that in politics you need both species: The true-blood reformist who knows how to carry out a project within a tight deadline will not necessarily be able to charm the folk at the village coffee shop. Similarly, the old-school kafeneio whisperer does not see politics as a tool for progress but as a KEP (Citizens’ Service Center) for voters. Meanwhile, voters usually prefer the politician who can run the better KEP and are not going to change their habits anytime soon.

It’s up to the prime minister to find the right mix. In order to rule this country you need to combine some of the old Greece and a bit more of the new one. Pure snobs cannot stand the idea of compromise. They resort to a calming tea in order to get over the crudeness of old party politics when they come across it. Their shock is much greater when the reformist plans collapse because they failed to garner the necessary support or because the politicians parading on morning TV programs were able to impose their own agenda.

One can take a look at countries like Germany to understand what the average modern-day politician looks like. We need fresh ideas and people who have a clear sense of direction for Greece and the ability to pull the country in that direction. They do not necessarily have to entice voters. They can make a difference from other positions. In order to succeed they must first tame inside them the strong appeal of publicity whose force is extremely alluring at the beginning, before it becomes addictive and finally self-destructive.