Crying wolf

Our politicians are so keen to obscure things these days that we might be well advised to use the services of a divinator to interpret their utterings. As far as the coming election date is concerned, for example, we have already been offered six or seven conflicting predictions. Some ministers styled themselves as the sole interpreters of the premier’s will, while others disguised their desires as reliable information. This habit has caused terrible headaches among commentators, for all of a sudden they have found themselves in the difficult position experienced in the past by the recipients of the often ambiguous Sibylline or Pythian oracles when a single letter could decide their own or their city’s fate. There is nothing more sibyllic than the premier’s clarification that «there’s still a long time until the polls.» Undoubtedly true, regardless of whether elections are held early in autumn or, at the end of the government’s term, in March. So in plain language, which does not demand any great divinatory prowess, this ambiguity about the timing of the elections may simply be part of our political tradition. After all, Greece’s history since the restoration of democracy in 1974 history shows that despite the myriad national issues invoked to justify early elections, the final decision has always come down to sheer political expediency – a heavy dose of pragmatism verging on cynicism. But by adopting this tactic, mainstream parties reveal – albeit unwillingly – what they really think of so-called national issues. A national issue, as perceived by our politicians, is an artificially exaggerated or convenient affair; something that serves ephemeral interests and secret ambitions. But when a serious national issue really does arise one day, how can the politicians possibly hope to attract our attention?