OPINION

Old and new

The ongoing deconstruction of the domestic political system – with a hand from the electronic media – and the failure of political leaders to energize the masses with inspiring political language has opened a chasm between voters’ expectations and actual satisfaction. PASOK leader George Papandreou appears to have sensed the gap. But his vague comments and his failure to see this as more than a need-for-new-faces conundrum spurred reactions have forced him to back down. Premier Costas Karamanlis has reduced his conservative government to mere management of the Simitis legacy. Doubts over his ability to wipe out corruption, as he pledged to do before the elections, grow daily, as does popular disappointment. But this does not necessarily translate into votes for the smaller parties, which are equally caught up in bygone ideas and practices. Their electoral power can only increase marginally. But the need for novelty is real – and someone must fill in the gap. Some have actually tried in the past, but, being career politicians, they merely expressed their rejection of the mainstream parties to which they used to belong. They were actually part of the existing political structure and hardly represented a break from it. Furthermore, politics – as both discourse and activity – had not yet deteriorated to where it is now. Naturally, the emergence of a new political party would be welcome as the older parties have gradually been discredited after throwing the economy, and more recently society, into disarray. However, under the existing electoral system a party must clear over 42 percent to ensure overall majority. If the decline of the mainstream parties continues and if the quest for novelty gives rise to a different political formation, the result will not be revival but chaos. If that happens, political leaders will only have themselves to blame.