Citizens alienated from politics

Citizens alienated from politics

The television ratings of an interview with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Open TV channel on Wednesday ranged from 12.4 percent to 16.2 percent, if we include the highest-performing segment. In any case, the percentage was low, not just for an interview with the prime minister but especially if we consider the current political climate.

It is clear that neither the chaotic coalition between Tsipras and Panos Kammenos, the leader of the junior party Independent Greeks, nor the contentious name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; neither the amendment on the offsets in an F-16 deal discussed in Parliament, the Novartis scandal nor any other hot topics are of interest to the public and the vast majority of the Greek people.

Even if the foundations of political power are being shaken, even if the possibility of early general elections remains open and public life is inundated with lies and artificial tensions, nothing can pique the public’s interest.

Exhausted, disappointed and disillusioned, many times over, the population has alienated itself from politics. The public is only marginally informed on current affairs – if at all – and only mildly interested for what happens abroad. It merely recycles stereotypes and the trashy commentary of social media. It responds to every challenge with a dismissive “everyone’s the same” and will eventually go to the polls having rejected politics. The prime minister’s repeated shifts in stance have hurt the institution, as well as Tsipras himself.

Throughout the economic crisis, we spoke extensively about the dangers of polarization, division, toxic rhetoric and constantly lowering the bar. We are now experiencing the sum total of these problems, which basically results in the trivialization of politics.

How will the much-anticipated – but not yet seen – normalcy return to the country without basic political credibility being restored first? The trivialization of politics not only deprives us of the promise of recovery, it also rules out any hope of political stability in the near future.

Festering relations among those who are in power (yesterday, a former star minister called the current junior coalition party leader “racist, sexist and unbalanced”) and a morbid dependence on government jobs reduce politics to a sludgy mess of panic-stricken action and expediency.

The alarmingly low rating of the prime minister’s interview does not only indicate bad faith in or indifference to political developments. It also raises the level of difficulty for the next government, which will have to shift the dominant climate of distrust into a vote of confidence.

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