OPINION

Lost in interpretation

The problem with interpreting the outcome of elections is pretty much a perennial one. It arises after every municipal, general and European poll. Even when the results are crystal-clear, with no gray areas on a technical or real level, the people who pick apart the polls for their political parties, each defending his or her own view of what the people?s ?message? really is, will inevitably clash just as hard as they did before the election in defense of the party line or program.

It is a safe assumption that this discord would prevail even after a referendum, even if the gap between the ?yes? and the ?no? votes was enormous.

Now almost 10 days have elapsed since the general elections of May 6 and the political parties are still trying to interpret the outcome. It is as though what voters sealed in their envelope was not a simple ballot, but a mysterious Pythian prophecy, an encrypted message to which there is no known code.

Usually, post-election discord is due to the fact that the self-proclaimed winners are as many in number as the parties running for election. This is not the case today, as neither PASOK nor New Democracy have earned the right to present themselves as victors. Parties such as Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), Drasi and Democratic Alliance have nothing to crow about, but neither does the Greek Communist Party (KKE), which even if it did count itself among the winners, would never deign to put aside its annoyance and demand that the people ?correct their vote? in a second round.

The people, by the way, respond at the polls to actual issues that exist in the runup rather than ones invented in retrospect. They did not, for example, vote for whether they were in favor of a coalition government or not.

There is nothing scientific or objective about the way political parties interpret the outcome of elections. Unbridled subjectivity, or, rather, over-inflated ego, is where the ideas and interpretations come from. They are subsequently decorated rather haphazardly in the mantle of objectivity in order to appear unbiased and therefore sound more convincing.

That same subjectivity is the guiding principle of how political leaders think and interpret the national interest, which apparently is more than one thing and is less than obvious. They all evoke the national interest, though each sees it from one perspective only and defends only that point of view. The fact that they are all certain that their point of view is also the only one that is correct stopped being news in the days of the Trojan War.