OPINION

Parochial tactics

The municipal and regional elections have a profoundly political character which does not coincide with the momentum and the objectives of the central political arena. It would be disastrous if it did. Every local community has its own particularities, its own problems and, of course, its own views of those who run for prefect or mayor. On the other hand, municipal and, in particular, regional elections are deeply affected by the overall political climate. This influence may be stronger in some places than others, but is always present. This does not, however, always constitute the principal factor. The political caliber of candidates and the manner in which citizens evaluate the outgoing local administrations are two additional factors with varying influence. From an institutional perspective, what is at stake in the looming municipal and regional polls is the election of the most qualified local administrators, but, practically speaking, the ballot is not completely free of political expediency. For its own reasons, the leadership of New Democracy has tried to lend the local elections the character of conflict between the government and the opposition. The conservatives obviously hope that their candidates in the prefectures and large municipalities will benefit from the widespread disillusionment caused by government policies. This tactic followed by conservative officials will not ensure that it is the most qualified politicians who get elected to the various posts but the practice is still legitimate and common in politics. On the other hand, the tactic which has recently been adopted by the ruling Socialists makes even less sense. Its right-bashing recycles the same old theme, and is reminiscent of 1980s rhetoric. PASOK, of course, has every right to fight the battle in the manner it believes best serves its interests, but belittling public intelligence is surely not the best way to make electoral gain. Mudslinging does not contribute to political stability nor does it help to raise our political ethics. Nor does PASOK’s attempt to cast a far-rightist shadow on New Democracy do that. Why is it politically reprehensible for New Democracy to try to sway the votes that Giorgos Karatzaferis will get in the first round? Especially when the overwhelming majority of these votes obviously do not come from extreme rightists but from traditional conservatives who were disappointed with the nomination of Yiannis Tzannetakos.