OPINION

Wishful thinking for politics in 2007

I know that people are creatures of habit and that Greece’s characteristic inactivity is not conducive to great expectations – on the contrary it discourages them – but with the beginning of a new year, some wishful thinking is permitted. First of all, I would like a prime minister who would open up the game to new players. The late Constantine Karamanlis, the current PM’s uncle, was in the habit of using this tactic, which is once again needed today. The current PM is constantly complaining about his Cabinet – so why does he not change it? Society has given him the political freedom to experiment. But, apart from government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and a couple of other exceptions, the PM has not brought any new faces into the game. The truth is that Karamanlis inherited a rusty party without any clear ideological direction. Indeed, in the past Karamanlis admitted to wanting to transform his party from its very foundations but changed his mind after realizing just how stagnated it was. The truth is that a man like Karamanlis might be able to win elections, with the help of a well-orchestrated Cabinet, but can he bring about the changes that this country needs? I would like to see Karamanlis with new cadres, with a tight circle with whom he has strategic discussions regarding the country’s direction and its role on the international stage. As for PASOK chief George Papandreou, I would want him to be truer to his real self – and I am not referring to his straightforward approach or passion for jogging, as these are qualities that he has acquired. I mean his real opinions of state reforms, the role of business and education. Every time Papandreou expresses his political convictions from the heart, he wins the crucial center ground, even though he may lose a handful of trade unionists and cadres. Meanwhile, nothing would fuel greater trust in the opposition chief than the image of a team that sits with him at the same table come what may. I would also wish for the PASOK leader to avoid any more discrediting «theatrical» appearances in Parliament. But my final wish for 2007 – for better quality in private television coverage – is unlikely to happen. Every time we think that news bulletins have hit rock bottom, the bottom drops out a bit further. The public is tired of being told what it wants by a society too lazy to create something new. When we finally stop underestimating the public, it may be too late. In any case, however much Papandreou and Karamanlis change, it will be difficult to bring about any significant reforms in a country where the average Greek is bombarded by sensationalism and excess every evening.