Arrogant reaction

The announcement by New Democracy of its proposals for education reform is a matter that concerns the opposition party and its relations with Greek society. It appears, however, that Education Minister Petros Efthymiou cannot handle this self-evident fact – and thus has reacted like a bull in a china shop. The conservative party was annoyed by the PASOK education minister’s comments but, in fact, it should be grateful to him. Efthymiou’s flippant and sharp-edged political remarks ensured extra publicity for the conservatives’ education program. It is common knowledge however that, unfortunately, most local media have other priorities and barely publish the parties’ programmatic statements. So this recent crossfire raised a political issue, therefore ensuring some good publicity for ND. Efthymiou’s only legitimate objection is that ND chose to announce its proposed education changes for the requirements for university entrance just a few days ahead of the national examinations. But even on this point, Efthymiou overreacted. On all other levels, the attitude of the Socialist minister was rather tragicomic. Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s government has for years attacked the conservative opposition, accusing it of lacking concrete proposals and of indulging in accusatory rhetoric – which is why Efthymiou’s stance was such an unpleasant surprise. His attempt to overshadow ND’s move with repeated media statements caused similar feelings. Overall, Efthymiou’s offensive backfired. All of this has given the impression that the government was irritated by the fact that the opposition party fulfilled its basic obligation of making an analytical and responsible announcement of its proposals for such an important area. The minister’s accusations of ND’s «creative patchwork» confirm his originality in his rhetorical communication. At the same time, it also betrays an unacceptable mentality. The belief that «we, alone, are capable of governing» is not only typical of Efthymiou but pervades the PASOK body as a whole. It is a clearly arrogant and potentially anti-democratic mentality which should have no place in our parliamentary system.

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