A dangerous form of cynicism

Ethics in politics is not something set out or enjoined by the Constitution. But that does not mean that what is constitutionally absent is thereby politically ethical, legitimate or beyond censure. And New Democracy will have every ethical prop knocked out from under it if it follows former Premier Constantine Mitsotakis’s advice and calls early elections next March, on the pretext of the presidential vote. The temptation is huge. PASOK is in a state of paralysis and a fresh, possibly worse, electoral defeat in one year could well cause it to collapse. ND would increase its parliamentary majority and secure its stay in power until at least 2009. On the face of it, this is rational, if blatantly cynical, thinking. The whole approach aims to extend by a year the four-year people’s mandate, with the neutralization of the opposition as an incentive (and not, of course, the none-too-impressive achievements of the government’s first year in power). Should this be the case, this first year, as a pre-election period, will pass by in governmental inaction. Given the situation, the popular mandate for ND would be renewed and strengthened in March. Political cynicism often hugely underrates the intelligence and judgment of voters. It also takes voters’ choices for granted. As Mr Mitsotakis must have ascertained, during his 60-year-long political career, this cynicism is rarely vindicated in the ballot booths. It is therefore reasonable to ask why ND’s honorary chairman would call for early, and unnecessary, elections when the party already enjoys a parliamentary majority of 165. If the new electoral law – which would diminish that parliamentary majority were PASOK and ND to receive the same percentage of the vote – is taken into account, then wonder turns to bafflement.

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