OPINION

Mysteries of the ballot box

One of the biggest mysteries about present-day Greece is the choices that the electorate makes, whether at the ballot box or as reflected in opinion polls. The prevalent opinion right now is that voters are disappointed by the old faces in politics because they failed to live up to their role. This is true in part. The parties represented in Parliament in the past often had a strong contingent of populists that would promise the world without explaining how it would be paid for. They had loudmouths who created tension for no other reason than to appear on prime-time news bulletins, and we can also assume – given that the Constitution has been designed to protect politicians from prosecution – that Parliament has seen its fair share of thieves as well.

All of the above points to the prospect of a complete shake-up of the political landscape, the rejection of the old guard of politicians “who brought us to this state,” and the election of new, incorruptible lawmakers who would get the country out of the crisis.

But last year’s elections and opinion polls since show that the Greek people voted out the thieves and replaced them with thugs; they punished the loudmouths and replaced them with bullies; they voted against those who made big promises in favor of those who pledged even more.

Where is the much-heralded wisdom of the people when they elect deputies who are not ashamed of having a swastika tattooed on their arm?

Let us concede that a part of the population is in blissful ignorance and is ready to elect someone who promises bridges where there are no rivers. But how can so many people vote for a formation whose last political move was publishing photographs of potbellied, leather-clad men pretending to be ancient Spartans and wrestling in the sand?

We can accept that many citizens are not well versed in economics and can be convinced by the argument that the more a state spends, the more money it has in its coffers. But how can they elect a party whose lawmakers use the worst of modern slang and the most vulgar of taunts in Parliament?

It goes without saying that because no one can foretell the future, having the majority shape it is the safest way to go. Humanity has not found a better way to deal with the issues that concern it than democracy. This means that every citizen’s choice must be respected, even if it means electing people for whom you would not normally not open the door to your home.

In a democracy, the outcome is sacrosanct and no one can change it, but this does not mean that the people’s choices are not above criticism, just like every other political decision.