OPINION

Decline

The infamous case involving the recently expelled PASOK deputy Alexandros Chryssanthakopoulos has given rise to a series of events that suggest a seriously ailing body politic. Dubious circumstances involving both politicians’ activity and journalists’ tactics have come to underscore, in a dramatic fashion, the degeneration of the public sphere. Should the anomalies worsen or be underestimated, they could even jeopardize the harmonious functioning of the country’s democratic institutions. The elected representatives of the public who do not hesitate to engage in all sorts of transactions – those that may even contain confidential data regarding parliamentary control – in order to conceal their own errors, of course dishonor the position of parliamentary deputy. Mistakes are human but, in this case, catharsis comes by accepting one’s political responsibility and by paying the corresponding political cost, not by undisguisedly attempting to undermine the entire system of political values with the ultimate aim of saving one’s political skin. The most pressing problem now emerging concerns the fact that the existence of such base figures not only sets a bad example, but also leaves the institutions undefended and preys on the objectives or interests of power-craving groups. The gradual shift of Alpha channel’s Makis Triandafyllopoulos’s type of journalism from the fringe to the center of the political domain cannot be interpreted independently of the trivialization of civic life. The perilous transformation of the mass media or of individual journalists into powerful figures who assume the powers of judge, jury and executioner all at once constitutes an obvious change that erodes the very foundations of democracy. As even totalitarian regimes try to maintain an ostensible separation of powers, we cannot possibly accept this type of totalitarianism on the part of the media. If citizens get used to awarding such abusive powers to any person who claims to represent «the interests of the weak,» then soon we will be faced with politicians who will try to impose similar rules and principles in the governance of the country. The reprehensible and punishable decline of one or more deputies and politicians should not be allowed to lead to a disastrous antidote of accepting an even worse type of totalitarianism; that of the media and their most visible but unaccountable representatives. «Today UN police and KFOR arrested three men suspected of having violated section 142 of the Yugoslav criminal code on war crimes against the civilian population,» Andrea Angeli told AFP.