OPINION

Consensus by election

Attacks against the police are a sure sign that on the fringes of the uprising of the country’s youth we are seeing the birth of a new type of «urban rebellion.» Most likely it will not follow the November 17 terrorist group model, but will be more like the armed autonomy movement in Italy of the late 1970s. Even if tensions are reduced because of the holidays, the situation has reached that critical point where any agent provocateur or fanatic can create a new explosion of violence and upset the tenuous balance. If the country is to be put back on track, political initiatives will be necessary, but the government of Costas Karamanlis appears worn down and incapable of taking such initiatives. The fact that people have lost faith in the political system as a whole does not mean that recourse to elections would not bring about change, but does show that people have limited expectations. The political system has failed miserably in its efforts to resolve the highly sensitive problems of education and riot control and even more so now, when the widespread crisis in representative politics undermines the potential of governments to act decisively. This is why the country needs solutions characterized by unquestionable political legitimacy. Such solutions can only arise from a referendum on specific questions regarding the most important issues of our times. The questions, though, should not be linked to any particular party or government. An election is the only way to put a stop to this game of laying the blame on someone else’s shoulders. And this also includes society, which often contradicts itself. If this Gordian knot is not severed by the sword of democracy, the country will sooner or later find itself in a situation when all protest is quelled by force. This method has questionable results, but above all it has very serious side-effects. For the time being, we have been protected from such tactics only by the political elite’s sense of self-preservation.