OPINION

In the land of the wise guy

Selection: Michalis Katsigeras reece is a country that is paying a heavy price for years of what can most simply be described as collusion between politicians and media owners. A minister or politician wishing to ascend one more rung up the ladder of power knows that to do so will require becoming «best buddies» with as many media people as possible. There is little doubt that no one can succeed without media support, but the problems really start when staying in the limelight becomes an addiction and a full-time job. Many governments have been struck by this illness in the past. In the good old days, one powerful prime minister used the «golden goose» of the National Bank of Greece to ensure the support of powerful publishers. As a consequence, the governor of the Bank of Greece effectively held more power than the minister of foreign affairs or defense at the time. The years passed and the disease spread to other domains. Does Mr X want to open a television station and help us along in the elections? We rush him through the permit process and even list him on the stock exchange. Does Mr Y have outstanding tax obligations? We recall the auditors who checked his books and even grant media companies special privileges. There is plenty of cynicism among those in the loop in the Athenian political scene and it is more than likely that we would simply laugh if we heard that some official wanted to investigate cases such as those above more thoroughly. The prime minister was elected on a platform of equality in the eyes of the law and anti-corruption. His firm stance on the issue has also shown that he means it. If, however, certain individuals in his government are too «chicken» to fight beside him, then this will eventually impact on him too. The average wage-earner who daily struggles to make ends meet or the shopkeeper who trembles in fear at the thought of a raid by the financial crimes squad could literally go completely crazy when reading about cases involving millions of euros and seeing that there are some people who are allowed to get away with anything. It’s like waiting patiently in a long line, while some arrogant wise guy cuts to the front. There will come a time when the law-abiding citizen will either start behaving just like them or will go completely nuts and lash out in a violent manner. When it comes to politics, however, the result of this lashing out will always have an unexpected outcome.