Displeasure and embarrassment: This was the government?s reaction to a decision by a panel of judges at the Council of State, the country?s highest administrative court, deeming a law granting Greek citizenship to foreigners as unconstitutional and having arbitrary criteria. It was a bold decision that stands in stark contrast to the particular multicultural leanings of the inner circle of George Papandreou?s government.
Now the government is on tenterhooks as it awaits to see whether the panel?s decision will also be approved by the Council of State?s plenary session and whether the outcome of local elections in November 2010 will be annulled seeing that some 12,000 newly nationalized foreigners had voted in them. Holding a new election looks unlikely for legal reasons, but on a political level the legitimacy of certain recently elected local government representatives will be dealt a blow.
The government, moreover, has no right to blame anyone for this development, least of all the Council?s judges, who by their decision simply confirmed that according to the Greek Constitution, Greece is still a nation where decisions are made by Greeks and it is not simply a geographical entity within which the right to vote is given to anyone who fulfills certain requirements such as length of residence.
The unfortunate side of this case is that we are once more seeing amateurism and political inexperience leading the government to enact a new law in much too hurried a manner, driven by obsession and because the driving forces of PASOK — instead of the electorate — suffer from the lofty immigrant syndrome that manifested itself in their youth and became firmly entrenched during the years they fought against the junta.
The conservatives, as well as other parties, were quite right to advise the government not to embrace the law so quickly and now they are pointing the finger at PASOK for this failure. Greece?s immigration issue is the biggest challenge the country faces, especially given the radicalization of Islamic countries that are right on the fringes of Greece?s broad sphere of interests.
It also goes without saying that during periods that are critical for a country?s survival, like this one, there is no room for the half-baked visions of every half-baked intellectual playing on the political stage.
Greece?s biggest problem, apparently, is a lack of common sense and this obviously permeates the decisions of George Papandreou?s government.