Glass houses and windows of opportunity

Glass houses and windows of opportunity

I admit that I don’t understand why these European elections were so over-dramatized and why some kind of bar was set for the ruling party’s performance. Just as I did not understand the battle cry for “an all-blue Greece” in the second round of local elections last year. In this day and age, ego in politics usually has the exact opposite effect to what is desired – and this is not just in Greece.

But here we are; with a result that clearly shows the prime minister remains effectively unchallenged and has no real rival to go up against. Society, itself, however, can turn into his biggest rival and this is a very real risk, because there’s a good chance that a person will appear to amply fill the void as well.

Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has perfected the triangulation of the political stage and this has given him absolute dominance. But he has also veered off course at times – both toward the left and the right – and this has come at a cost. Many center-right voters were irked by a candidate list that appeared way too lumpen for their tastes. They are demanding voters and they went a different way on the day. They felt that they were being taken for granted by the government and this rankled. They also had nothing to fear from the specter of a SYRIZA comeback.

The prime minister’s office failed to properly appreciate the threat looming from the right, however. They also failed to see the glass house that had formed around the government after five years in power, keeping the real world at bay as those inside the bubble prettified the view outside.

At a time when politics relies so heavily on issues of identity it is crucial to keep your ear to the ground, without being swayed by the nagging voices within your house and without dismissing everything that is offensive to your sensibilities as fringe and loony. Greece stretches way past the triangle of Syntagma Square.

Mitsotakis has shown that he can read the political facts and act confidently and effectively, without hang-ups. He has three more unchallenged years lying ahead. It is clear that he needs a new team which is clear-headed, politically astute and free of the baggage of institutionalization. Citizens expect to see something different to what they experience every day at public hospitals, in the state administration, at schools, in the judicial system and at supermarkets. They expect less arrogance and greater political sensitivity.

We all know that the country has a unique opportunity to make leaps forward, without becoming embroiled in new adventures. That window of opportunity will close in three years. It is up to the prime minister to make sure it isn’t missed. 

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