Turning the page

George Papandreou’s new Cabinet has made a very good first impression. To a public weary of the same old faces, addicted to the public persona of its politicians and thirsty for new images, the new faces of government are a tonic, especially as far as the younger and women ministers are concerned. The new government’s first success has, therefore, been on the public relations front and the image it is putting forth is that George Papandreou’s PASOK is severing ties with the brutish PASOK of the 1980s and even more so with the hated PASOK that played with the stock market and left its morals at the door in 2000-04. On the other hand, the public profile paraded before us strikes a chord with the middle and upper classes of modern Greek society. The more technologically and stylistically savvy 30- to 40-year-olds will find more qualities in the new ministers with which they can identify, even if the sympathy runs only skin deep. After all, we live in an age of images and semantics – action, effort, results, conflicts and/or possible failures will come later. Basically, people are tired and disappointed. They are pessimistic and cannot take anymore doom and gloom. They need a good dose of optimism, a little bit of hope. They are also at a point where they will believe promises, however shallow they are, as long as they provide some momentary relief. The winter season proper began last week. Restaurants and bars are buzzing with people; theaters, galleries and cinemas are presenting new things, the entire city is buzzing. And, under cover of darkness, the police are reclaiming the gray zones of Athens, just a few hours after the Cabinet met with the Ombudsman. Quietly, with its inherent problems but also its virtues, the country is turning a new page.