Personal choice

Alekos Papadopoulos’s announcement that he will withdraw from politics and not seek re-election in the next parliamentary elections – which he made public in an interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini – has thrown Greece’s political system into turmoil. PASOK’s party mechanism has been raging against the health minister, while officials close to the prime minister have leaked information to the effect that Papadopoulos will likely lose his place in the government. «I completely disagree with the way in which Alekos Papadopoulos announced his decision and its timing because the timing and the manner of the announcement of his decision give some people the opportunity to tie it to the current negative climate for PASOK and for others to tie it to the change of the province of Thesprotia from a two-seat constituency to a single-seat one,» party secretary Costas Laliotis said in a written statement yesterday. Laliotis is clearly trying to limit the political damage that this incident has caused to the ruling party, but his tactics are anything but praiseworthy. The attempt to convey the impression that the health minister is abandoning the ship amid a storm and because he senses that he has no chance of being elected in a one-seat Thesprotia may serve current political objectives, but in fact seeks to hide the essence of the issue. A minister in office, in this case Papadopoulos, has reached the point of questioning the entire political system. He is sick of the predominance of communication tactics, that is the domination of propaganda over genuine political activity that has resulted in a situation whereby propaganda determines the content of politics, rather than the reverse. He refuses to see politics as a profession and politicians as managers. Does a minister have the right to personal choice in such a matter? Can he turn his back on all that? One can, of course, dispute the manner in which Papadopoulos announced his decision. But the essence of the problem remains: Does a minister have the right to announce that he does not wish to seek re-election? Party critics dare not deny this right in public. Their stance, however, betrays that this is exactly what they mean, remaining faithful to the old mantra «the party interest above all» – as this is interpreted by the political elite of the time. Papadopoulos’s stance represents a break with this mentality. This is why it triggered such a fierce reaction.