On automatic pilot

During Costas Simitis’s press conference on Wednesday, we saw the image of a prime minister entirely satisfied with himself but aggrieved by everyone else, a politician who can only identify one shortcoming in his government – its somewhat ineffective public relations tactics. His key complaint arises from the fact that despite the earth-shaking changes carried out by his government, the public remains unmoved and the opposition continues to split hairs. «How was all this achieved – on automatic pilot?» Simitis inquired, citing some of the more impressive projects (the metro, the Attiki Odos, Athens’s new international airport). The answer to Simitis’s question is rather simple and certainly different from the one he had in mind: If the government demands plaudits for what it has achieved during its time in power then it should also accept the blame for projects which have not been completed and those which have but with cost overruns, at a very slow pace, and with subsequent technical flaws. Simitis expects us to applaud the government for that which we should take for granted. What is a government elected for if not to open roads and build schools and hospitals? Is it so its leaders can travel to Europe, make an appearance at «high society» functions, count the profits from their stock exchange investments, and pay heed to the troubles of its citizens only when they get a chance?