At a time when cynicism and divisions are prevalent in Greece, many will choose to ignore or minimize the support offered to Costas Bakoyannis, who is running for mayor of Athens, by his rival candidates Pavlos Geroulanos and Nasos Iliopoulos following the attack on the former’s campaign kiosk in central Athens.
And those same people may also underestimate the way Bakoyannis himself reacted to that support.
The kiosk in front of the Old Parliament was vandalized by anarchists who also shouted slogans in favor of convicted November 17 hitman Dimitris Koufodinas. Bakoyannis’ father, Pavlos, was assassinated by Koufodinas in 1989.
Geroulanos and Iliopoulos visited the kiosk in an act of solidarity. Commenting on the vulgar slogans sprayed on the kiosk about Bakoyannis’ father and the damage caused, Geroulanos said that “the Athens we want, the Athens of tomorrow, has no place for supporters of violence.”
For his part, Iliopoulos stated that although there is an “ideological abyss” between himself and Bakoyannis, “political differences are one thing and inhumanity quite another.”
Bakoyannis thanked both candidates publicly in a Facebook post, in which he spoke of a victory for “political culture in action” and mentioned the attack against Iliopoulos’ kiosk in the district of Ano Patissia.
“A big thank you to Pavlos Geroulanos and Nasos Iliopoulos, who visited our kiosk, spoke with our volunteers and expressed their support after the attack by the agents of violence last night. Some other supporters of hatred attacked Nasos’ kiosk in Ano Patissia,” he wrote, adding: “Our political culture emerges victorious in action. It is a good omen for Athens’ future. We will fight violence and hatred together, regardless of where it comes from. With no ifs or buts, no whataboutery. All together for a city that unites and reconciles us.”
Everyone did what was self-evident. But their stance in today’s Greece – characterized by insults between politicians and a dangerous climate of slipping toward division, if not hatred – is the exception. It is a pleasant, welcome, necessary exception which should one day become the rule.
Given the new election law of proportional representation, no candidate will have an absolute majority in the municipal council, which means the three candidates – as will be the case in many other regions and municipalities – will be called upon to act in a similar spirit the day after the elections, since this is the only way to solve the city’s many problems, most of which are recognized by all.
Whether there will be agreement in dealing with issues jointly and what form this will take (open cooperation, tacit support, discretionary tolerance) is something they will decide for themselves.
But for the time being, the behavior of the three rivals – they are political adversaries, not enemies – over this incident, as well as during the campaign period, provides a great example of how to be respectful toward one’s opponent, which would be great it was followed by the entire political system.