Regretful voters

Whether they had C.P. Cavafy vaguely in mind or not, Greek voters questioned in a recent survey appeared to agree with one version of the Alexandrean poet’s verse: «They both do equal harm to Greece.» The negative mood does not concern some abstract rejection of politics and politicians. All surveys of public opinion – which is sculpted under the strain of reality and its televised representation – underscore a serious amount of disillusionment with the government and the opposition alike. Neither New Democracy nor PASOK can take comfort in getting less criticism than its rival. Moreover, neither of the two mainstream parties can shake off the blame by pointing a finger at the media – a longtime PASOK tactic, or rather strategy, that has recently become fashionable among conservative officials as well. Greeks have a word to describe the regretful voters who once abandoned their longstanding political preference as they were lured by the promises of a rival candidate. The «kopsoherides» are determined not to repeat their self-destructive mistake again. Post-ballot, they regret their decision but, knowing that there is no way to redress the error, they declare they would rather chop their hand off than vote again for the same party. Some 15 to 20 percent of voters (a segment nearly equal to that of the group of undecideds) should have already lopped off both hands, as it were: the right hand because it voted for New Democracy, and the left for picking PASOK. There is always the option of being intransigent. But for the time being, polls show that pessimism is the only option: a pessimism which is just as unproductive as the political and social impasses that engender it.