Responsible opposition in the age of Covid-19
Former health minister Andreas Xanthos was known for his moderation and spirit of cooperation during the four years that he served in the SYRIZA government, and these traits are apparent in his stance in the opposition today.
His attitude is the right one. It’s useful to the country as it copes with the Covid-19 crisis, and could also benefit his party in the future. Yet, Xanthos has recently come under fire from within SYRIZA’s ranks for not being more critical of the center-right government’s coronavirus spokesman and expert Sotiris Tsiodras.
In comments on Monday, Xanthos said that Tsiodras was an “excellent choice” by the government for leading the effort to battle the epidemic and coordinate the country’s scientific capabilities. He also agreed with the recommendations of the scientific committee of experts and noted that political oversight and criticism needs to be confined to the efficiency of the government’s response to the crisis. His comments were self-evident for any serious and well-balanced person who respects himself and others, whether leftist, centrist or on the right.
Xanthos also noted that any reservations or objections of a scientific nature should be raised officially with the proper committee rather than being expressed indiscriminately in the public debate by non-experts. He also added that the spread of the coronavirus is slower in Greece than in other countries as a result of the early implementation of restrictive measures, as recommended by the experts.
What he said was no more than plain reality, while he also added that the circumstances call for a mobilization of the scientific community in a positive direction, rather than conflict and competition over who is considered the best expert.
As the discussion develops on what form of opposition is right during an unprecedented crisis like the one we’re dealing with today, the serious voices need to prevail. They are the ones that would have the necessary credibility to be heard when criticizing actions by the government.
Everyone in the government as well as in the opposition will be judged by how they responded to this crisis – the former by whether they were capable and did what needed to be done, and the latter by whether they acted responsibly and avoided populist rhetoric.
In short, everyone will be judged by whether they each, from their respective positions, served the national interest.