OPINION

Bad luck or incompetence?

It was many years ago I came to terms with the fact that I live in a state that does not just collapse due to pure coincidence. At the time, I was trying to understand why Greece’s post-1974 political system had been unable to dismantle a terrorist organization. It beat me that a modern European state had no clue about the identity of November 17 members. «Mr Papachelas,» an expert at the time told me, «a lot depends on luck you know.» What followed made me think that one of the most fundamental things in my life i.e. a state that can protect me against a paranoid killer or a calamity may not exist after all. «We had once cornered the November 17 members in Sepolia. US experts had trained us for such incidents. We were told to line up in three zones: A flexible, lightly armed zone; a second zone with men taking cover behind vehicles; and a final, heavily armed one that made sure nothing got through. But we very unlucky once again,» he said. «We forgot to form the second and third zones.» Bad luck, you might say. During the latest fires, a mayor appointed a clearly unqualified person in the fire service. The guy forgot to connect a hose and died shortly after. I am sure that many more people died of «bad luck» simply because some guy bungled his job. Certainly, the Greek State is a complete shambles. But some things I still don’t understand. For instance, although the administration knew that fires were threatening the country, it chose a professor as caretaker interior minister. All he could do was dial the emergency 199 number. People know that PASOK populism destroyed all sense of professionalism and hierarchy. That’s why they are willing to put up with so many of the failings of this administration. But they expect the premier to be tough and leave nothing to chance, at least when it comes to key posts.