Behind the walls

Guaranteed victories generate little enthusiasm. The truth is that New Democracy met little resistance in this weekend’s parliamentary debate from a confused and deeply divided opposition. But the ruling conservatives should not be deluded into thinking that obtaining the automatic approval of their own deputies has somehow also renewed their popular mandate. The triumphalism, applause, and big smiles were aimed at the TV cameras and intended for Parliament’s general consumption; and it was hardly comforting to see that the loudest applause came in response to sarcastic sound bites. It was surely no coincidence that few calls for humility and moderation were heard. Moreover, Adam Regouzas, the deputy economy minister in charge of state revenue, did not even address the assembly. All the weekend’s witticisms have precious little to do with the burgeoning problems of society, such as growing unemployment, inflation and insecurity. Meanwhile, PASOK’s vitriolic attacks on the government, charging it with all that is wrong with the country today, including the Socialists’ own blunders, is no more convincing than ND’s tendency to blame everything on PASOK, 15 months after their election victory. Parties that are in power, or were once in power, do not have the right to behave as a conservation society mainly interested in burnishing its own image. The three-day debate yielded little fruit, perhaps because the outcome was known beforehand. Or it could be that the party leaders acted as if they were back in the middle of the election campaign, endlessly babbling on television windows. We don’t know how many people watched the debate, but the ratings could hardly have been encouraging. The viewing public could not help but get the impression that high walls have been erected between Parliament and the outside world it purports to represent.

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