When in fear, we hope

At the dawn of 2008, Greeks are tormented by a strong sense of insecurity, they have little confidence in the institutions they deal with on a daily basis and seem to place greater trust in those bodies set up to handle emergency situations. The above data are from a Greek index of confidence in institutions, which features in a Public Issue survey published with today’s Kathimerini. Citizens’ ratings of 46 institutions suggest that the summer wildfires have marked the collective subconscious, as the fire brigade enjoys the highest level of confidence (90 out of 100 people). It is followed by the National Meteorological Service (EMY). The military ranks sixth just behind the National Statistics Service. The president of the Republic ranks third, two places above the fifth-ranked Athens Academy. The latter two are both largely symbolic (unlike the Church and the judiciary which occupy the 16th and 26th positions respectively). The Ombudsman occupies fourth place and this has much to do with the institutions near the bottom of the table: The political parties languish in last place, below the stock market, governments, food industries, ministries, television and banks. The findings show that people feel helpless in the face of an aggressive and unreliable state and political system. The poor assessment of the police force contrasts with the confidence shown in the fire brigade and army. Wishful thinking is reflected by the strong confidence of respondents in private clinics (13th place) while clearly on the basis of negative experience they give the National Health System a very poor rating (39th place). Similarly, universities (which we all need to trust) occupy ninth place while schools – with which we are all familiar – occupy a lowly 32nd position. We reject what has disappointed us; we want to believe in things we have no knowledge of; and where we fear, we hope.