Next time you go to the polls, take a moment before you cast your ballot to ask yourself: “Am I sure that this is the person I want in charge of my and my country’s fate in a crisis?” The responsibility of who governs us is ours alone. If we pick people based only on how many times they’ve appeared on TV, people who have never been tested or felt the fear of losing their job, people who are all looks and no substance, people who are stuck in the past, we will have no one to blame but ourselves if a crisis strikes and the people assigned to manage it aren’t up to the job.
The political personnel of this country – regardless of political parties – is, sadly, below par. To be clear, this does not mean that so-called technocrats are the solution. Experience has taught us that many of them tend to undergo a radical transformation as soon as they sit in a ministerial chair, forgetting their craft or their science, melting under the pressure, going crazy with the publicity and delivering nothing whatsoever.
What we need is the right mix of politicians with chutzpah and distinguished professionals from different fields who have the strength of character to stay true to themselves. Politics is not for the faint-hearted, though, so this is anything but easy. But at the end of the day, it is our responsibility – the voters – to make the right choice, and not based on who is more photogenic or louder.
The next crucial step is an honorable political agreement that the vital core of the state apparatus is not something to be toyed with. This has been accomplished in Greece’s armed forces after much effort and strife. Today and in the recent past, the top ranks of the armed forces have been staffed – with few exceptions – with excellent people. And now, opposition SYRIZA has agreed that if it were in power today, it would also have chosen Professor Sotiris Tsiodras as its adviser on the coronavirus crisis, as the government has done. This is the way forward if we want a serious state and continuity. Cronyism always exacts its toll, particularly in a crisis. If you pick people according to their political or personal affiliations, you will almost certainly end up with someone who doesn’t know the job and has no respect for the people doing battle on the front line – the worst-case scenario, that is.
The country’s recent crises have shown us that Greeks can work wonders if a) they are inspired by the leadership, b) the rules are clear and apply to everyone, and c) they can see that the best people have been assigned to the important jobs. Greeks are generous and honorable, but even this needs to operate with some kind of order if it’s to work a miracle.