Indifferent public

Although we are in the final stretch for the European Parliament elections, Greece’s two main parties have not shown much interest in discussing the burning institutional, economic and social issues haunting the EU. Their only contribution has been some brief generalizations about Europe while the focus has remained on domestic concerns. Indifference to European issues was also reflected in Tuesday’s televised debate between Greek party leaders on a stage that was carefully set to host the most tedious discussion possible. Politicians, it is often said, avoid going into European affairs in too much detail because the vast majority of the public is not interested, a mood that is apparently prevalent in other countries as well. About 30 years ago, Constantine Karamanlis’s conservative administration made a major decision that eventually led to Greece’s EEC membership. In the following elections, 60 percent of the electorate (the aggregate of PASOK and Communist Party votes) disapproved of the decision, deeming that membership of the bloc would work against Greece’s political, economic and social interests. People’s minds were quickly changed, however, as PASOK managed to convey the impression that, politically disliked though it was, the Community was still an excellent source of much-needed funds. Save the Communists, who insist on lambasting Brussels, the PASOK and ND parties have silently consented that Greece should exploit the inflow of EU funds and Europe’s protection on national issues but it need not work hard to enhance its say on EU affairs. As a result, the Greek public has grown apathetic about European politics while Greece is looked down on by our EU peers as a middle-sized power. Greek citizens are naturally indifferent toward the European elections and the main political parties have nothing special to say on the big European issues.