Voice of the people

An astounding confession by Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis, who, during an official visit to Qatar and before a group of surprised officials and journalists, said that neither he nor the rest of the political system were capable of dealing with entangled interests, was both unconvincing and pointless. Under normal circumstances, Kefaloyiannis would obviously have displayed greater self-restraint. He is after all a politician of some experience. But at the Diplomatic Club Doha in Qatar, on a very hot night by the sea, to the sound of sensual Arab music, Kefaloyiannis let his guard down and waxed lyrical on «the anguish of modern Greeks.» Who are we? Where are we going? What is life all about? These are subjects for the taverna. If Kefaloyiannis really wanted to know, he would have resigned long ago. Nothing that has happened over the past few days justifies such an outburst of sincerity during a visit abroad by the country’s president, accompanied by three government ministers and businessmen seeking new Middle East markets. But there is an issue of substance here that has pervaded the entire system. Prominent members of the New Democracy and PASOK parties have lately begun expressing ideas outside those prevailing within their parties, commenting on events as observers rather than as protagonists in public life. In seeking the causes of this behavior, one must conclude that not only political party leaders but parliamentary deputies and ministers are realizing the divide between official policy and the mood of voters, especially their traditional supporters. This tendency for politicians to speak with «the voice of the people» is an unusual if not unhealthy phenomenon, even if it does not reflect reality, but is to no real effect.