Overcoming the crisis

Greece is suffering from a crisis in political representation that is now visible to the naked eye. Recent opinion polls confirm this. PASOK has built up a lead, thanks to the huge wave of protest voters. But although most voters have turned their backs on the ruling party, they don’t see George Papandreou’s Socialists as a reliable option either. In fact, none of the national parties is considered worthy of filling the gap. A year ago, it seemed that Synaspismos could actually do this. But the hopes proved short-lived. Of course, polls back then giving the party 18 percent of the vote overestimated its actual strength. The party attracted a big share of protest votes – mainly disaffected PASOK supporters. But a number of policy blunders eventually killed Synaspismos’s hopes of capitalizing on this wave of disappointment. This also ended the hopes of those who wished to see Synaspismos become a factor that would help overcome the crisis of political representation. Popular disappointment is also demonstrated by the fact that, according to polls, the Greens would grab 3 percent of the vote. If it weren’t for its name, the Green Party would never even come close to such a figure. Few are aware of its program or its actual cadres. The Greek political system seems unable to overcome the crisis. The USA has. The Bush presidency may have thrown the US into a multifaceted crisis, but Barack Obama’s rise to power has created fresh political momentum. In Greece, no new leadership can emerge without first coming to terms with the country’s vested interests. As they demolish value systems, local elites become discredited while encouraging wrongdoing among society. While our European peers are debating the requisite changes to their socioeconomic model, in Greece politics has been shoved to the fringe. What we see is vulgar and ugly forms of governance that perpetuate the crisis. Even self-evident measures, like a comprehensive debate on education, have become something to hope for.