In search of healthy debate

Opposition PASOK chief George Papandreou’s annoyance over the image being projected by his party is entirely justified. Even so, the role of party leader is not only to express public dissatisfaction when faced with a faulty foreign policy line or in cases of personal conflicts among key figures; it is also to take immediate and decisive measures to ensure that the party machine works correctly and efficiently, that the image of the party is clear and unequivocal, and that viable solutions are devised to counter any problems that may arise following lengthy debate and exchanges of opinion. A politician who merely expresses his annoyance without making the necessary moves to ensure that he does not have to repeat his concerns faces a real risk of becoming a caricature and losing his self-respect. The coexistence of differing points of view is not only proof that a party is operating in a democratic fashion but also sows the seeds for political debate and acts as a kind of internal monitoring system. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Most debates by party bodies are conducted out of force of habit or to observe formalities. The only real clashes are to be seen on televised debates, which are frequently criticized but often by the very people who attend them…

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