Double standards

If what is past is prologue, existing university asylum legislation is the source of many serious problems. The situation makes necessary a debate on the law. Even defenders of the law deem that a change is needed so that the provision can again serve its true purpose. PASOK MP Theodoros Pangalos has a right and an obligation to express his opinion – even when that runs against the party line. The problem with statements like the one he made earlier this week is not content but function: They are mostly a public relations exercise and have little to offer to the debate. If the former minister had clearly said that the asylum law has been rendered meaningless by current conditions, he would have probably caused less of a fuss. Sure, every politician has a right to express himself in the way he deems best. Accordingly, others have a right to criticize him – particularly when the politician (like Pangalos) has a long record of sensationalism, improper behavior and controversial posturing. If Pangalos has managed to escape largely unscathed, it’s less because of his long career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and more because of his intelligent and charming character, which has also made him a TV star. From a PASOK perspective, Pangalos ruffled feathers just when the Socialists were mounting a counterattack on the back of a censure motion. In order to avert a fresh round of navel gazing, Papandreou went on to ax Kimon Koulouris. It was a cost-free show of force against what was clearly a lesser offense. There is a moral lesson here, and Papandreou is not alone in such double standards when it comes to policy. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis ejected MP Evangelos Polyzos for saying the self-evident, but he has turned a deaf ear to more extreme cases.