The moral high ground

Those who live by the sword die by the sword. It’s the same in politics. For some months now, PASOK officials have been warning George Papandreou against making the structured bonds scandal the battle flag of his campaign. Even though New Democracy has lost the moral high ground, they argued, PASOK has nothing more to gain. The Socialist headquarters had begun to smack of private detective stories and some cadres and reporters insisted that this was to be Costas Karamanlis’s Watergate. But before attacking our neighbor, we should first be sure our own house is in order. A politician must keep in mind two things. First, any party mechanism is, from the lowly, provincial level all the way up to the squandering of EU funds, a potential hotbed of graft and corruption. People here join a party and start networking in order to make money, just like Americans do with the Rotary. The sight of luxury cars lined up outside the party convention venues now hardly raises an eyebrow. Any politician who ignores this simple fact could soon find himself in a trap. Karamanlis is said to trust only a small circle of aides. Expanding this circle, he fears, will expose him to fraudsters. Papandreou should have known that by trusting people with a bad name, the tactic of polarization could backfire. Moreover, the bonds scandal is but the evolution of bipartisan skulduggery in the social security funds involving unionists, fund employees, even state officials. But the sword aphorism also applies to the government. ND made corruption its campaign mantra and the corruption allegations against conservative officials have irked many a voter. When you win the elections on the back of a pledge to rid the political system of corruption you have to make sure you don’t repeat the mistakes that swept out your predecessors.

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