The desirable vs the possible

The ongoing debate over Greece’s education reform (which has currently shifted to Lagonissi, where a two-day session of OECD education ministers is being hosted) is not just about higher and university education. A lot more is at stake as well, including the quality and effectiveness of our democracy. It’s often said that politics is the art of the possible, meaning that a government’s deeds cannot be expected to match its initial promises. It is accepted, a priori, that a ruling party’s pre-election pledges, despite majority approval, will inevitably meet with reactions; these will lead to compromise solutions or else prove to be ineffective, thus forcing corrective steps. That distinguishes the desirable from the possible in politics. But anti-reform university protests are a different story. The conservative government has already backed down on many issues that are considered self-evident to the rest of the world while some here insist on treating them as Greek particularities. Knowing that they cannot defend their notorious entitlements – such as the lack of teachers’ evaluations, professors’ monopoly on textbooks, and the right of students to take as much time as they like to complete their degree – they have opted for blanket rejectionism in turning against all change whatsoever. And all that at a time when everyone trumpets the need for drastic measures to streamline higher education. In this case, the government does not have the luxury to steer a path between the desirable and the possible. Repeating the dialogue would be hypocritical and opportunistic on both sides. The government can either (figuratively) launch an all-out assault against protesters or abandon its entire reform package. This is a test for our democratic system – not just the ruling party but all the parties that aspire to govern this country.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.