Election talk

The prime minister has thrown down the gauntlet: The country cannot stand a lengthy campaign period, particularly given the fact that confrontation effectively began last March. Since the education reform controversy fizzled out and the bonds scandal grabbed the headlines, there has been little, if any worthwhile, political debate. President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias is reportedly unhappy with the premier’s decision. From now on until the elections, not a single day will pass without some rumor, secret poll or confidential report about the bonds case and other issues. People with access to behind the oak doors of the Presidential Palace deny such speculation. After the late Andreas Papandreou revised the Constitution, they point out, the president cannot really go up against the prime minister. According to the Constitution, the president is «obliged» to call an election should the premier ask him to. But there still remains an institutional question: Would the country perhaps benefit from a constitutional rule on the timing of elections? Perhaps it would be healthier, as it were, if everyone – from the premier down to the last citizen – actually knew that polls are held only at the end of a four-year term. In that way, we would not have to put up with a paralyzed state mechanism for months before the polls. We would not have to put up with the manipulative tactics of vested interests pressing for a snap poll whenever it suits their interests. And we would have a more steady and focused political system. We need a constitutional revision stating that elections can only be held if governments lose their parliamentary majority and the assembly cannot elect a new premier. Then Greece would be a bit more European and, perhaps, a bit more boring. It would be Greece without election speculation.