What is Samaras afraid of?
Quite clearly the purpose of PASOK asking for parliament to investigate several corruption scandals is partly to undermine the image of its predecessor New Democracy. The motive is strong: Just because charges are dropped in a judicial inquiry does not mean that the case has to be swept under the political carpet. Despite their rhetoric about zero tolerance for corruption, governing parties historically use all sorts of ruses to keep officials implicated in scandals out of the courtroom. They prefer to make even the most blatant cases of graft a political issue rather than allow them to be investigated by the judicial system. And the public naturally have come to believe politicians never turn on their own. However, this atmosphere of impunity undermines the political system. The previous administration was effectively sunk by the scandals in which it was allegedly implicated because then Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was unwilling to break the political code of silence. The new leader of ND, Antonis Samaras, seemed set to break this tradition but unfortunately – for him, his party and the political system as a whole – he backed down, obviously influenced by the same mentality and petty arguing that has always stalled the course of justice in the political arena. This is all quite absurd, the product of an undermined political system that inspires nothing but scorn among the public. But why is Samaras allowing himself to become hostage to a mentality that threatens his political career? Had he been handed the succession, then that could have explained it, but he was elected by the broad party base because he represented a break from the status quo. He owes nothing and has nothing to fear. So now he needs to bear in mind that leaders are those who forge new paths and change mentalities, whereas party presidents who are too scared to upset the status quo become hostages to the entrenched mentality and always pay the price.