OPINION

Hybrid government

Every government wants to come across as a breath of fresh air. So, Premier George Papandreou has worked to create a new, more relaxed image for his government. The young ministers who are now at center stage, the changes to names and missions of ministries, and several decisions have given the impression that the long delayed Spring of 1968 is here at last. A central message of the new government is an adaptation of Obama’s «Yes, we can,» to »We are those who can.» This is based on the people’s need to believe that better days are possible, but also on the arrogance that this team can govern better simply because its members are «better.» How are they better? First, through their intentions: their ideals and PASOK’s program. A more convincing argument, though, is the way in which they will behave. People are sick of the limousines, the groaning buffets at endless inaugurations and receptions, the insatiable beast of a State that knows only how to take, not to give. So, among the promises it has made and actions it has taken, the government has decided to use only hybrid cars. Gone are the gas guzzling limousines whose exhaust fumes wreaked of «State» and «Power.» In are the hybrids, which, although not cheap, represent «Green development,» the blessing of technology when it serves humanity and the environment. Hybrid cars are the perfect metaphor for PASOK – but not the best means of transport for all government officials: with their small engines they cannot carry the weight of armor plating. So, it might look charming if senior government ministers use such vehicles, placing their ideals above their security, but they risk being accused either of frivolity or hypocrisy: they are either oblivious to their duty to be safe and to govern, or they are placing their guards’ lives at greater risk by not protecting themselves. Hybrids either manage to combine the benefits of disparate parts, or they sink under the weight of their weaknesses – whether they be cars or governments.