OPINION

Hypothermia and pollsters

” Fever is rising,» shouts one newspaper vendor, hoping that we will stop by his stand to get our news. «Party conflict is intensifying,» puffs another news trader. «The battle over municipal elections is peaking,» a shrill voice heralds. They all turn to a huge stockpile of worn-out stereotypes, which are used on the basis of Pavlov’s tested recipe, as the citizen is treated as a being who is slave to his or her reflexes, as a robot who lacks self-control, second thought, or judgement. In reality, if we evaluate things on the basis of the news bulletins which follow the much-promising captions, the political temperature remains fixed at an endurable 36.6 Celsius while the intensity of the confrontation is as great as the weight of the lavish pre-election promises: zero. One candidate can be seen kicking a ball for the first time in 30 years (striving to come across as a good sportsman, not merely a sports fan). Another candidate can be seen walking through an open market, with a bewildered look on her face as if she had just landed on the Red Planet (but she has to show that she is close to the common people). A third candidate is attending a mass, with one eye fixed on the television camera – the other on his watch (trying to portray himself as a humble religious man). Finally, a fourth candidate can be seen addressing the crowds at a political rally, declaring his faith in a local administration which stands above parties as it suits his independent profile. The fever only rose, slightly, when PASOK and New Democracy clashed over what opinion polls are most reliable (their “own,» of course) and which are fixed (those of the others). Unintentionally, they informed the public that they each have their own affiliated pollsters, who are capable of adapting the findings to the needs of their clients. Their sincerity is, indeed, praiseworthy.