OPINION

Desperately seeking a reason to vote

All evidence, including the heated debate among political leaders in Parliament on Monday, indicates that general elections will be upon us very soon – in September or perhaps a little later. I assume that citizens are unsure about what questions they should ask themselves in the runup to elections, which issues should be pondered and weighed up. Ahead of the last elections, after some 20 years of governance by the Socialist PASOK party, the majority of the public was insisting on change, and most looked toward the conservative New Democracy as a vehicle for bringing this change. This occurred not because we had grown tired of PASOK, or at least not solely because of that, but because PASOK and its leadership had identified the party with state governance, which was often exercised for the benefit of private interests. This was the phenomenon which PASOK leader George Papandreou later referred to as «structural corruption.» I do not want to play down the presence of PASOK in political life and the governance of the country. But I do believe that the initiative taken by the people in March 2004, to push PASOK out of power and bring in ND with the underlying demand for change, was essential and apropos. It was a crucial development for political life in general and for PASOK itself, which was sent back into opposition so that it could review its profile and role and introduce the necessary changes. But now, if elections are held in September, or soon after, what will be the main political demand. What crucial question will be asked? If we judge from the recent clashes in Parliament, from their attitude and spirit, we will be asked to choose between «blue» con men and «green» con men. We will be asked to weigh up their errors, blunders, even misfortunes. Or perhaps we are expected to select a party to govern us based on how many forest fires occurred during their terms in office and how much destruction was wreaked by them? It’s hard to accept that these are the only burning questions in our political life. Indeed, they are not. The pre-election programs of both main political parties clearly demonstrate that the content of their policies and the points on which they clash – and concur – are actually very different to what is projected to the public. Certainly, as far as political convergence is concerned, it seems that «structural corruption» is the only area that unites the two main parties. In the forthcoming elections, the parties must convince us that there is a real difference between them. ND has disappointed many. It has the right to seek another chance to convince us about the reforms it is planning so we can judge whether they are what the country needs. As for PASOK, it needs to convince us it has changed and explain how it will handle public administration better than ND.