OPINION

Breaking party taboos

It is somewhat shocking to see how politicians remain bound, even today, by party taboos. It is almost unthinkable, for example, in the rank and file of New Democracy for the party to support a mayoral candidate for a big city who does not belong to its camp. Even younger politicians behave the same way. SYRIZA, for example, would never support Yiannis Boutaris to run again for mayor of Thessaloniki without fear of upsetting the balance within the leftist party.

The paradox lies in the fact that if our political leaders were to make decisions alone, without pressure from various party lackeys, they would probably be able to overcome the taboos. The problems, however, start when the voices of petty party interests are allowed to grow louder than those of society and simple common sense.

Unfortunately this happens at almost every level of the decision-making process, with catastrophic consequences for the country and the political system. Our politicians act within the bounds of a closed system that imposes the party’s choice, from the administration of a hospital to the staffing of some obscure public body. This blind adherence to the party taboos is one of the reasons why Greece is where it is today. Anytime a prime minister has tried to appoint a powerful, non-partisan personality to a key post of the public administration, he has fallen victim to sneaky attacks from party officials, unionists and other party cadres.

So how can this change? When will our political leaders realize that what upsets the party core may earn them greater support from society? This is the question that politicians who want to be a part of radically changing the future of this country need to ask themselves. Of course it would take a great deal of certainty and self-confidence. Politicians in a country like Greece often put loyalty and conformity above all else. In many cases this has also proved to be politically disastrous. A person who spends all day at party offices sucking up to the leadership is as a rule a terrible manager and more often than not only in it for himself. He is normally the kind of guy who could never get a job in the private sector on merit, which explains why he has the time and the patience to devote his energies to gaining influence within the party.

I believe, without a doubt, that the politician who behaves differently is the one who will eventually dominate the country’s political arena. The public has been ready for some time to accept someone who is ready to break party taboos and ignore the noise of the cogs in the party wheels. At the end of the day, a different style of management is something that would become immediately apparent.