Do we feel more confident after the debate in Parliament that was provoked by the main opposition’s censure motion? Have we been reassured by the government’s repeated pledge to create a “war room” to deal with natural disasters, now that the Joint Coordination Center for Operations and Crisis Management at the Civil Protection Ministry has been judged to be unprepared, even though the prime minister himself visited it in July 2020?
Have our fears about how the state will deal with the next extreme weather phenomena, which are sure to occur with increasing frequency, both in winter and summer, been alleviated?
In order to claim something so consoling, we would first have to prove that the three days of the parliamentary debate offered a fruitful discussion of quality, without the toxicity of politics. That during the debate, the government and the opposition – main and smaller parties – clashed fiercely, as democracy allows and even demands, but also exchanged proposals instead of the usual curses, and managed to reach an agreement, at least on the lesser issues.
We would also have to prove that all three parties that have governed for a while, or for a long time – New Democracy, PASOK and SYRIZA – have examined their history with honest vigor, know where they went wrong and, above all, recognize it publicly, without self-righteousness, evasions and twisted formalities.
Unfortunately, the whole debate reinforced our fears, rather than alleviating them. And this is not just because it was dominated by a clash over the frustratingly significant influence of trash TV, and generally of the yellow and yet publicly subsidized press, on political life. Even if we pressed our good faith to turn into trust in the state, its mechanisms, its reflexes, and its ability to impose its will on the innate bulimia of the private sector, we would not succeed.
The prevailing doctrine of “you have no right to speak, because you have done worse” only leads to self-admiration and self-acquittal from any responsibility. One thing was confirmed on Sunday: The willingness for self-criticism over the spectacular failure in dealing with snowstorm Elpis (Hope) was so great that it was accompanied by the claim that “the snow usually falls at night, but now it fell by day.” Meteorologists smiled bitterly when they heard this, just like the doctors before them, when they learned from the government that it makes no difference to patients whether they “are inside the ICU or outside it.”