OPINION

Long distance voting

Whatever happens in Europe, where the debate over how to change the terms of economic policy has begun, whatever happens in our elections on May 6, one thing is certain: it is we Greeks, and no one else, who have to succeed in getting our country out of the crisis and back into the society of non-dependent states.

And yet, the campaigns of many of our politicians give the impression that they are living in the past. They ignore the present, they overestimate the help we can expect from abroad and they refuse to look at their own responsibility in doing what must be done. Arrogance abounds — whether in calls to violate our obligations or in the rejection of cooperation after the elections.

The enthusiasm with which many Greeks are following the rise of Francois Hollande in France, and the possible changes that this might bring to the Fiscal Pact, reminds us of the days in which we staked our hopes on the US elections. In 1972 we thought George McGovern would boot out our junta; in 1977 we expected Jimmy Carter to push the Turks off Cyprus; Bill Clinton was the man to solve all our differences with Turkey, while Barack Obama, the antithesis of George W. Bush, was our natural ally.

Expectations were such that even if they won, and even if they did help Greece, ?our? candidates always seemed to achieve very little for us. Yet we still believe that the rest of the world does nothing but think about us and that those who might be elected will help us, while those in office spend their days conspiring against us or ignoring the injustices done to us. Maybe this is why we allowed our politicians to get away without taking decisions to avert catastrophe for so many years.

This absurd mindset resulted in our believing that our foreign friends and enemies were either excessively interested in us or excessively powerful, while, at the same time, we believed ourselves so unique that we needed no one?s help. Today we talk as if the rest of the world cannot hear us, even as we wait for it to help us. The extremists talk about exiting the EU, or adopt behavior that has no place in a modern democracy. They want help without obligations.

Indeed, many times in our history, foreign friends and enemies played a key role in our affairs. But they never achieved anything without the decisive help of the Greeks — whether for good or ill. Today it is frightening to see how powerful this attitude is — the belief that foreigners will determine our fates while we, proud and defiant, pay no attention to anyone. We shout and wait — for what, we do not know.