The dangers of polarizing tactics

It is not at all certain that most citizens take an interest in political developments. On the contrary, there are many indications of late, that suggest the exact opposite; the scale of public participation in the vote determining which song will represent Greece in the Eurovision song contest and the indifference toward events such as the student uprising in France – which didn’t even get much coverage on television – are two examples. In view of this, it is hardly surprising that the polarization characterizing the political scene inspires little public interest, nine months before municipal and prefectural elections. It is PASOK chief George Papandreou who is chiefly to blame for this climate, as he appears to have opted for confrontational tactics rather than boosting his profile as opposition leader. He evidently realizes that the New Democracy government, halfway through its four-year term, is maintaining its popularity lead, as is Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis; and so Papandreou is resorting to extreme tactics with the evident aim of rallying his party’s supporters while avoiding the formulation of viable counterproposals to the government’s own ideas. The phone-tapping scandal provided Papandreou with plenty of mileage for his verbal assaults. But it was the audit carried out by the government after it came to power that has fueled the opposition leader’s most acerbic attacks. In any case, such confrontational tactics merely serve to alienate the public from politics yet further.