Debate under pretense

Debate under pretense

Here’s an extremely unlikely scenario for Monday’s debate between party leaders in Parliament on the impact of the novel coronavirus. 

The leftist SYRIZA opposition and the left-of-center alliance Movement for Change (KINAL) will not choose to attack the conservative government for the “devastating consequences of its inertia.” 

For its part, the government will not choose to respond saying that Greece is in a better shape compared to other countries. 

Meanwhile, the Greek Communist Party (KKE) will not lash out against the business elites and the big multinationals, or accuse the government of “serving the interests of the economic elites.”

Let’s assume for a moment that we will not hear what we have so often heard from our politicians over the past few months. That they will not engage in finger-wagging as the number of Covid-19 cases – and deaths – climbs.

Let’s assume that the debate will not be reduced to blanket rejectionism from the side of the opposition, or this time from the side of the government, in a flurry of self-congratulation and endless reminders of the mistakes of the opposition.

So where is the problem? Why should we worry about the nature of yet another scheduled debate in Parliament? Is it really so bad for the Greek political system to maintain its pre-Covid habits?

We have for months been commenting on the devastating changes that the pandemic has inflicted on the economy, the labor market, society and a lifestyle which we took for granted. How do party officials process radical change? Do their decisions hinge on voters’ expectations or do they choose to redesign their policy, i.e. the way they think?

It is easy to say that the new reality cannot be dealt with using outdated interpretative tools. However, several initiatives seem to point in the opposite direction. Delusion can be a means to survive. But although this may be understandable when it comes from the ordinary citizen, it is completely counterproductive when it comes from our political class. Even more so at a time when skepticism or rejection is not only directed against the ruling elites but also expands to scientists and medical experts. Monday’s parliamentary debate will be an indication on where we stand on this. 

Conspiracy theorists are not the only ones to oppose reality. So does the political system which pretends to be living up to the circumstances by mixing the same old ingredients in the blender of the pandemic.

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