OPINION

Managing protest culture of Athens

The Public Order Ministry has created a stir during the lull of the August holidays by bringing up the prickly topic of demonstrations and how exactly the government should deal with them. Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras wants to initiate dialogue on this issue by bringing together the state, social agencies, political parties, and those vying to become the next mayor of Athens. The idea is to come up with a plan of action that would minimize the disruption to public life caused by the hundreds of demonstrations in Athens every year. The opposition parties and unions reacted angrily to the idea, of course. Their responses were expectedly knee-jerk. But the reaction of leading opposition officials is surprising. Let’s remember that when PASOK was the ruling party it tried to deal with the issue and even instituted some measures, which, as usual, were never implemented. But the problem has remained and it will get much worse next month, when the vacationers return. And so it must be said that a handful of protesters cannot be allowed to shut down the city center and inconvenience thousands of Athenians who are exercising their constitutional right to go to work unhindered. The smooth running of the capital depends on decisions made by a few hundred unionists. In other words, the routine of millions of Greek citizens depends on the good will of mechanisms that are not controlled by society as a whole. The state must solve this problem. For a start, the government must implement existing rules. On the other hand, Athenians are judging those parties and unions and also the candidates who wish to be mayor of the capital. Athenians are scrutinizing the candidates’ courage to see if these mayoral hopefuls dare tackle the city’s difficult problems.