I wonder if there is a way to silence ministers, deputy ministers, epidemiologists and other pundits. Because they are doing huge damage.
People are confused and frustrated. They want straight talk and clear instructions. It makes them angry to hear a minister say that this or that may happen. We all understand that the coronavirus presents us with a fluid and unstable situation. Even states that are bigger and more organized than Greece are having trouble managing the coronavirus crisis. They make mistakes, moving back and forth.
People will excuse some mistakes. But they will not do the same for the endless chatter and the inevitable contradictions that it entails. A minister ought to speak only when he or she has to make some formal announcement. A minister’s job is not to offer speculation.
The same applies to the country’s epidemiologists who have clearly mistaken their proper tasks with morning-hour TV shows.
And then there’s the politicians making the handout pledges. Every few days some government official will leak information about alleged plans to erase all debts, increase the number of installments or forgive all loans. I may be exaggerating here, but not that much. Most of these pledges or leaks have gotten the green light from Maximos Mansion. Then some lonely deputy minister will try to reformulate the debate in more pragmatic dimensions and try to manage public expectations. Weaning Greek society off state aid in the post-Covid era will, after all, be a huge challenge in itself.
Populist politicians making unchecked promises will make it impossible to meet this challenge because the citizens take what has already been announced for granted – and they expect more.
Officials will have to scale back some of their announcements, which is not easy when you have to deal with a crisis without knowing what lies ahead.
It would be very helpful if officials in these key positions opened their mouths only when they know exactly what they want to say and when they are 90 percent certain that they are not speaking just to boost their media exposure.