Prime Minister George Papandreou started out with the best of intentions after his PASOK party was elected in October 2009. Indeed, they were so good that he rested upon them. In just over a year, though, the visionary behind ?transparency? and ?everything on the Internet? is being accused by his party members of keeping them in the dark on matters of national importance, his deputies are besieged by protesters who gather outside Parliament or wherever else the mobile and angry horde gets wind of them, and foreign counterparts avoid meeting with our formerly traveling prime minister. How did it all go so wrong, so quickly?
We are witnessing the quickening vortex caused by the political inertia of the past few decades. After paralyzing the economy it is now spreading to the spheres of politics and society. The distance from opengov.gr to nogov.gr is minimal and PASOK has proved this beyond doubt. Even as the government was initiating interminable debates on the Internet, the party?s organs were being dissolved. PASOK has a general but he has no hierarchy to command, but rather a mass of different groups at war with each other. (Our parties were always like this, but now their lack of backbone has become an obstacle to their survival as they have to take very difficult decisions.)
The endless talk about minor issues is no substitute for discussions on issues of major importance, such as economic and social reforms, the reduced incomes of citizens and long-term arrangements with the country?s creditors. Politics becomes nothing more than an empty shirt, a shopfront with no merchandise behind it. And the government appears to be nothing more than a speechless observer of events.
The vacuum is filled by crowds in the streets: Wherever people feel unprotected they look for groups to join, the rifts between groups widen, moderate voices are lost in the shouts and extremism of others. Everyone fears everyone else. When we see repeatedly that the law is applied selectively, no one can feel safe and no one can feel free.
The people?s rage stems from a sense of injustice, that they are the ones who must pay for the crimes of others. But it comes also from the anger of being deceived — by those who for so many years pretended to govern but did not do anything to keep the country from crashing on the rocks.