A surprising voice of sobriety

I would never imagine that I would be scared at the prospect of a Greek Parliament without Aleka Papariga, the Communist Party (KKE) chief.

Sure, I never shared KKE’s dogmatism, or its talk of “disobedience,” urging people to violate the country’s Constitution. Nor did I ever approve of the tactics and machinations of PAME, the militant, Communist Party-affiliated union.

KKE has its own share of responsibility for the country’s woes – although, it should be said, its share of responsibility is far smaller than that which burdens the populist representatives of the country’s ruling elite.

That said, Papariga’s posturing and public language in Parliament over the past few weeks has been that of a politician with a great amount of accumulated experience, with respect for the political institutions, and with a strong sense of responsibility.

When the forces of KKE clashed with troublemakers and self-styled anarchists in front of Parliament in October last year, and after a man who was a member of the communist party lost his life during an anti-austerity demonstration in Athens, Papariga chose not to pour more oil onto the flames nor declare a revolution, as it were.

Instead, the KKE leader chose to ease the tension and avoid any statement that would aggravate the situation. This, of course, is where a key difference lies. Papariga has been through worse. She was there when the country faced really dramatic challenges.

The same thing was to be witnessed in Parliament last week during the debates on new austerity measures and then the 2013 national budget. Amid the sea of stupidity, of cheap antics, intolerance and rowdiness, Papariga was there to deliver a calm, sober and straightforward speech. Her discourse is always within certain limits, it does not exceed the contours set by KKE reasoning and analysis. Everything has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Papariga and her style are perhaps not in vogue anymore. A section of the public is more into expressions of hate and parochial arguments.

Reports have suggested that Papariga will step down as KKE general secretary by the end of 2013. This country will then lose a big chunk of much-needed wisdom and experience.

There aren’t many politicians with Papariga’s kind of experience and level-headedness out there any more who can ring the bell of danger at this crucial time. And that can only be bad news for the country at times like these.

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