OPINION

The grind of politics

The political meat grinder can take the most hardened, neoliberal politician and turn him, in just days, into an extreme statist. You can enter the machine a technocrat who wants to make a difference in your sector and come out a PR slave. Costis Hatzidakis is one our most promising young politicians. He made a good impression at the European Parliament, always adopted advanced and non-populist positions and has nailed the technocrat recipe. This is why everyone hoped he would make a difference at a crucial ministry, that of transport. But something happened just before Christmas and the Hatzidakis we knew seemed to have been left behind in Brussels. The reason was a statement he made saying that Olympic Airlines will fold. He hadn’t planned his comments and his timing was off. He hadn’t considered the reactions. He got the PR beating of the century and has since kept his head down. He only looks up to see if anyone is saying nasty things about him. With what we know, Hatzidakis seems to have left his anti-statist ideas on the shelf and is now adopting more or less what is popular in today’s public opinion polls, be it on the matter of OTE or Olympic. To be fair, Hatzidakis, like any other politician in his position, is looking at a major re-election challenge in a very difficult constituency. You can’t expect miracles from someone carrying this kind of burden. Either the electoral system has to change or more ministers have to be from outside the parliamentary arena. Otherwise the angst for votes will undermine any innovation. We can only hope that Hatzidakis finds his beliefs and his political self once more. For the time being, however, he serves as one more example of how the meat grinder of politics pulverizes technocracy, vision and neoliberal ideas.