Two sides of the same tarnished coin

If the Public Issue poll published in Sunday’s Kathimerini had been the first to record a major drop in the popularity of both New Democracy (ND) and the PASOK main opposition party, then the parties could have simply dismissed the results by claiming that the poll was but one isolated sample. But this poll comes on the tail of many others which tell us, in the language of numbers, what the prevailing sentiment is in Greece right now. The figures tell us that the pulse of the two-party system is growing weak and the political system that was founded in the post-dictatorship era is starting to founder. The negative numbers shown by the poll – 79 percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the way the New Democracy government is managing its affairs and 91 percent claimed to be disappointed in the main opposition party – may look disheartening right now, but, if ND and PASOK continue to operate as they are at present, in the future these numbers will be looked back upon with longing. The percentage of disappointment is equal to (if not greater than) the combined percentage of votes cast for both parties in the last general elections, which means that at least half of the country’s voters are not satisfied by the performance of their representatives. Is this just the usual whining – such a common trait in Greece? What is certain is that because of the politics practiced by both parties (which, beyond their rhetoric and stated ideology are essentially quite similar), the voting (and polled) public sees them as two sides of the same coin, and, what’s more, a coin that has been tarnished and has lost the value (ideologically, politically and morally) it had when it first came on the market. The two parties – via their lack of initiative, internal unrest, lust for power, plundering of the state at every given opportunity, vapid moralizations, opportunism, dependence on the authority of the media and antiquated hierarchy – can no longer inspire even their most ardent fans. The only people who seem oblivious of the true depth and extent of the political crisis are the bastions of the two-party system. The pride with which they defend their policies testifies to the fact that awareness of the environment around them and self-awareness are not among their strongest assets. So, the real question is: Are these people going to keep scratching their heads, wondering just what has gone wrong, or are they finally going to wake up to the fact that their ideas, their tenets, have already begun their long journey into the night?