Political expediency

PASOK leader George Papandreou’s rejection of an appeal from the government, via its spokesman, that he contribute toward a solution to the problem of educational reform was to be expected given that the country is entering an election campaign period. Yet his rejection is also disappointing, particularly coming from a politician who has declared he wants to usher in a new era in politics. The purpose of the government’s initiative was probably to embarrass Papandreou – to show him as rejecting dialogue, shedding the reformist image he had presented in the past, and descending into populism with a penchant for blanket rejections. Papandreou’s reaction, however, need not have been so obvious. After all, ever since he himself held the post of education minister he has has emphasized the importance of dialogue and consensus. It was at his initiative that the National Education Council was set up to advise the political leadership. However, the stance he has taken as main opposition leader has undermined the council’s work. Instead of adopting a combative position, he could sit down and contribute his own ideas on improving the Greek education system, which is deeply in crisis. Nothing prevents him from criticizing the government for its mistakes and omissions, especially since he does not deny that things have to change at all levels of the system. Only recently, former French prime minister Lionel Jospin said that those in charge had to have ideas and convictions. «They have to take a stand on the major problems in the country and the world,» he said. Of course that doesn’t apply solely to Mr Papandreou.

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