OPINION

Politicians with a capital P

The scene was almost theatrical, one of those moments politicians would rather not see broadcast. Deputy Parliament Speaker Giorgos Sourlas went to visit one of the farmers’ blockades in Thessaly as one of the region’s notables. He carefully avoided such «symbolic» antics as climbing on a tractor in the manner of Agricultural Development Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, but, as he was giving the farmers his spiel – that he supports their demands etc – he was interrupted by his own audience. The parliamentarian was shocked. He had expected the customary cheers, applause, adulation and votes. He recovered quickly, and, like a true politician, launched into a counterattack: «Instead of thanking me for being here, you’re complaining instead?» What does this little anecdote tell us? That every politician currently in power feels like a Politician with a capital P. He feels like an aristocrat, above the lowly citizens who have the right to vote for him, to beg him to put in a few good words to those higher up, to mediate on their behalf and to later send him off with a barrel of tsipouro in thanks. As a result, when the Politician deigns to leave the halls of Power and visit the «people,» «his people,» he is doing them nothing short of a favor. And the people, in turn, must be respectful and humble; they must say thank you, even if they feel that they are being duped. Half the problem in Greek agriculture, as we have seen from decade to decade and government to government, is just this: For the powers that be, the farming community is an unruly lot that can be manipulated. The recent event involving Sourlas tells us a different story: that the farmers, if not all then many, free from party manipulation, do not feel any obligation not to interrupt the boring monologue of Power. They will interrupt it, and they will ridicule it.