‘Real’ politics and institutions

‘Real’ politics and institutions

Who was surprised by the official opposition party’s violating the principle of confidentiality in Parliament’s Standing Committee on Institutions and Transparency meeting on Wednesday? Who did not expect foreign news media, politicians and public figures not allied with New Democracy to present the surveillance of journalists and politicians through a combination of great liberal sensitivity and self-regard, as if providing lessons on good behavior while entertaining their fans? Who was taken aback by the government and its supporters in the news media and social networks making stupid insinuations regarding the alleged motives and personal connections of journalists, even as their rivals suddenly saw the foreign media as their great ally?

Everything that has been playing out in recent weeks strengthens the suspicion that we have not learned much from previous crises. The government appears to underestimate the magnitude of the problem, as if it does not understand that the surveillance of political opponents and journalists wakes memories and prompts interest in every country. And so, reactions and developments domestically and abroad feed off each other, putting the government under pressure while prompting enthusiasm in the opposition, as it senses blood in the water. The essence of the matter is that the government must provide convincing answers to what is happening with the surveillance issue, so that there can be the necessary accountability and clearing of the air. 

This, however, demands cool heads, sincerity and the flawless functioning of institutions. And we know that the intensity of our political disputes pushes participants to break the rules, so as to present themselves as sufficiently fired up with holy indignation. SYRIZA proved this already at Wednesday’s committee meeting. As always, each side seeks to justify its behavior by pointing to that of the other. As if the institutions are obstacles to “real” politics. We see this behavior daily in discussions, in court, in sports stadiums. And so, we remain trapped in primitive clashes. 

Friday’s parliamentary discussion on the surveillance issue is significant. It will show whether Kyriakos Mitsotakis is in a position to limit the fallout, or whether we are condemned to a period of political clashes for the next few months. Until the elections which, because of the simple proportional system, will most likely lead to an impasse. Forming a viable government will take cooperation and compromise. Qualities that appear in short supply today. 

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