Only Kipling can say

For some weeks now, political life in Greece can be best described by the Rudyard Kipling poem «If.» The first stanza of the poem – «If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs» – could well be the motto of the government, which looks like a deer in the headlights of scandal. If, say certain people who like to dream up scenarios, former Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis eventually deigns to give in to the pressure from friends and colleagues in his own party to resign, both in public and confidentially, then all’s well that ends well. All we’ll have are a few shadows hanging over a former minister and his party. At the end of the day, shadows matter little in politics as long as the wind of inertia soon blows them away. If, on the other hand, Pavlidis does not resign and his immunity from prosecution is lifted, then we will be heading for general as well as European parliamentary elections and the opposition PASOK party will win simply because ruling New Democracy has absolutely no chance of not losing. But if elections are held, many current ministers will lose their seats, several of whom are not even eligible for full retirement yet. The chances, therefore, of them voting according to their conscience as to whether Pavlidis should face further action are drastically reduced. This brings us right back to Kipling: «If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / And treat those two impostors just the same.» In politics, just as in life, the distance between triumph and disaster is really not that great. Whether we have the politicians capable of understanding this and, more importantly, surviving such a turnaround, meaning politicians whose minds are not clouded by arrogance and overoptimistic certainty, willing to assume their responsibilities before the country is dragged into the quagmire they’ve created, only Kipling can say.

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