OPINION

Old-style reformism

For a prime minister, the inauguration of some hospital is not the best opportunity to launch a pre-election campaign. As long as it is a state institution that is being opened – constructed using public funds (and with significant delays) – the prime minister is obliged to conduct himself as such and not to downgrade himself to a vote-hunting party leader. If this is how Costas Simitis understands the promised reform of political morals and revival of public life, then so be it; however, he should be more restrained in his self-praise and also instruct those who sing the virtues of his «reformist» policy to restrain themselves as well. Because what kind of modernism can be found in old-style party politics? What kind of modernism can be seen in his eagerness to claim as a personal or party achievement a project which is essentially an obligation of the State toward its citizens? What modernism can we see in the treatment of citizens as customers? The «surprise inspection» at an Athens children’s shelter this week by opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis displayed even more modernist zeal. But what do such visits actually achieve? Does anyone gain anything from them? If not, then why this carefully staged spontaneity and (from the opposition) displays of outrage? Maybe to prove that the safest road toward modernism is via old-style party politics?