OPINION

No more dodging the hard stuff

A few days ago, I was struck by a statement made by KKE general secretary Aleka Papariga. The Greek communist party chief said that the government of Lucas Papademos is like its predecessor, except in one respect: it doesn?t lie.

I think Papariga is right about this. The biggest weapon in the arsenal of the former central banker is the fact that he likes to call a spade a spade. Papademos does not make groundless promises, he does not make elusive comments, he does not seek to embellish the truth. One should not forget that, in one of his most remarkable comments in his first appearance outside the Presidential mansion, the head of Greece?s provisional administration stressed he is ?not a politician.?

Papademos may be a bit of a cold fish. In fact he deems that too much emphasis on PR stunts would only serve as obstacles for a man in his position. Regardless how things turn out with Greece, no one will ever be able to say ?this is not what Papademos promised,? or ?I wish he had said it like it was, so that we would too be aware of the risks.?

In other words, Papademos will never make the mistake George Papandreou made ahead of the general elections in the fall of 2009 when he chose to mislead the voting public about Greece?s economic situation.

One of the reasons why people are so upset with PASOK?s chief is the fact that he decided to hide the truth from them. Of course, one might say that if Papandreou had spoken the truth about Greece?s economic misery he would not have won such a comfortable victory at the elections. That maybe the case, but he would have most probably lasted longer at the helm of the nation, plus he would have taken the necessary measures much earlier. Let alone the fact that PASOK insisted on playing games with the country?s international creditors and the vested interests, whereby the socialist cadres pretended they were pushing with reforms when, in fact, they did absolutely nothing to see them through.

I truly hope that Papandreou?s experience has taught the country?s politicians a lesson: that they cannot get away with their political pies-in-the-sky. The Greek public has grown extremely hard on their politicians. There?s no such thing as a grace period anymore. And as public haranguings and opinion polls suggest, whichever politician makes the mistake of promising heaven will soon end up in a political inferno.

We are paying a hefty price now because for years we had expelled truth from public discourse. Politicians who spoke uncomfortable truths, people like Tassos Yiannitsis and Stefanos Manos, were pushed to the fringes of domestic politics because purportedly ?they don?t understand what politics is really about.?

Journalism was dominated by individuals who convinced us that the customer is always right and who shied away from the hard stuff, because it damaged their ratings.

Once we get over the stage of unchecked anger and populism, we will start taking a closer look at who we trust and who we vote for.