Political confrontation is the rule in democracies. It is expected, necessary and useful. Not the kind that is reduced to grandstanding and aimed at petty political gains, but that which focuses on the serious and meaningful exchange of ideas and suggestions, from which the best are selected and implemented quickly and efficiently. The goal can only be the correction of mistakes, the end of long-running problems – in simple words, progressing and improving.
The national catastrophe which we are still experiencing in several areas of Greece with the wildfires could, beyond the destruction, leave behind something positive for how we conduct our politics.
Some people persistently ask politicians to acknowledge mistakes and failures, to apologize and to assume their responsibilities. Of course, these actions would not be not enough. But they are just some of the first necessary steps which could prove useful later on.
The prime minister did it; he apologized. Some people accuse him of not being honest in his apology. It doesn’t matter. This is what political opponents will say. What matters is that he made a move in the right direction, while promising that responsibility will be assigned.
The leader of the main opposition took his own step. He criticized his opponent, but – more importantly and substantially – he immediately submitted a series of proposals. He did not complain vaguely, he did not promise to tear up laws or make other ludicrous claims. Instead, he presented views and suggestions for the next day. Are they any good? Are they worth studying? We will see. But he moved in the right direction.
The prime minister responded positively to this. He recognized his political opponent’s move and responded immediately, saying that any positive proposals from the opposition are welcome.
What is certain is that there should be a national plan to protect our forests and that building permits should never be issued in forested areas.
If parties are afraid of the political cost, let them unite in this fight that is, or should be, common to all: overcoming greed and opacity, laying the foundations for the real protection of forests and the environment in general, and ending the immoral practices we have been seeing for decades.
The plan should be prepared through a really fruitful dialogue and the government should submit a well-drafted law without loopholes, delays and extensions in its implementation, that will be voted on by all political forces. A common national plan. Is it that hard? The measures that will be taken, the strategy that will be implemented, should be one, and must not change down the road.
Governments are always afraid of the political cost. Here is a great opportunity for reconciliation, consensus and the creation of a national policy. Nature has no ideology or party preferences. Bold decisions and actions are needed that will hurt many strong interests. Amid the shouts, exaggerations and – unfortunately – insults that will be heard in the coming days, weeks and months, some of us choose to expect a healthy political confrontation, cooperation and common sense, away from authoritarian behaviors, grandstanding and insults which will not save our forests nor will they protect the environment.