Flying in the face of public opinion

One would think that the results of June’s elections for the European Parliament or even the fact that almost half the electoral body in Greece chose to abstain in protest against the political system as a whole, would have shaken our politicians. Yet developments since June, and the continued behavior and actions of our politicians, confirm that any hopes of change are little more than a chimera. The world will soon be marking one year since the onset of the credit crisis that shook the world economy to its very foundations, but here in Greece we are busy with other matters. Half the summer has been spent on speculation about whether we will be having early parliamentary elections. And the object of this exercise – for both ruling New Democracy and the main opposition PASOK party – has not been to find solutions to mounting problems, but to see how power would eventually be distributed. We have also expended much energy debating whether party members involved in the Vatopedi land-swap scandal should have been struck off the ballot or whether the prime minister needs to reshuffle his Cabinet – not in order to bring change, but to improve the government’s image. Just weeks before the August 15 public holiday we were hit with the Siemens bombshell, where chief witness and former Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos implicated members from both leading parties in the cash-for-contracts scandal. In this case too, the initial stance displayed by both showed just how much they fly in the face of public opinion. In sharp contrast with the widely held belief that everyone gets a piece of the action, New Democracy and PASOK insisted on playing the innocents. Unfortunately, it looks like this tasteless and predictable game of pretend-politics is set to continue. In the meantime, the consequences of the crisis will become all the more apparent and put even more pressure on the many areas of the economy suffering from long-term structural weaknesses.