Disappointment in democracy

Despite the risk of generalization, it’s important to note that according to the VPRC survey published in Sunday’s Kathimerini (using a sample of 608 people), only 8 percent said that civic rights and freedoms are «almost always» protected. Ten days earlier, amid the CCTV camera use controversy, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis reassured voters that civic rights are fully respected everywhere «from Xanthi to Ierapetra.» Other conservative cadres issued similar statements. Nevertheless, some 70 percent of the respondents said that in Greece rights and freedoms are often not protected. Perhaps they trust personal experience more than official slogans. Government officials would probably attribute criticism to typical Greek whining and mistrust. Some might be tempted to add that the public skepticism derives from a spontaneous anti-statism founded on people’s confusion of freedom for selfishness and of rights for license. Simplifications are always easy – that’s why they are so common. Passing the buck is not much harder. But because rights and freedoms are tested and acquire meaning in the domain of everyday life and because we can decide for ourselves whether these are respected or not, those who are indeed interested in our democracy should take a closer look at how disappointed the Greek public is. The promise to improve everyday life – one of the key pledges of the current administration – will never come without first ensuring equality before the law, the right to work, free education and health. And yet a recent Ombudsman report revealed that the Supreme Council for Personnel Selection’s recruitment process is still hijacked by political expediency. Only now it’s the conservatives, rather than Socialists, who call the shots.

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