Creative suspense

It took no more than a week for the phone-tapping scandal to become part of Greece’s daily routine – ministers contradict each other and then try to withdraw their statements; officials drop hints about foreign powers’ involvement before they go on to «clarify» their comments. Opposition cadres, in their usual accusatory style, call for ministerial resignations but their demands are not seriously considered. Amid the cacophony, a group of amateurs set themselves up as experts as they utter all sorts of assumptions. The average citizen is gradually led to believe that they were wrong to be alarmed in the first place as the secret investigation of the past 11 months has resulted in no progress whatsoever. The authorities have not even traced the illegally installed software that would allow them to identify the eavesdroppers. The political system behaves as if Greece is a country with no secrets, which may in fact be true. The political pendulum inevitably swings back to the coming reshuffle. For almost three months now, most Cabinet members have had to put up with the uncertainty of an ever-imminent shake-up. Government cadres play it cool, pretending to continue working undistracted by the circulating rumors. The whole thing borders on the farcical. To a government, a reshuffle is like a makeshift tonic. It brings a fresh start, a few months’ push before the next impasse. But now the element of surprise has been lost. The long wait has exhausted the current ministers and their likely successors. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis obviously thinks that he would rather keep New Democracy officials in «creative suspense» than clear up the uncertainty. In the meantime, the tapping affair serves as a battleground for public debate.

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