From to no­

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY NIKOS KON­STAN­DARAS

Prime Min­is­ter Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou started out with the best of in­ten­tions af­ter his PASOK party was elected in Oc­to­ber 2009. In­deed, they were so good that he rested upon them. In just over a year, though, the vi­sion­ary be­hind “trans­parency” and “ev­ery­thing on the In­ter­net” is be­ing ac­cused by his party mem­bers of keep­ing them in the dark on mat­ters of na­tional im­por­tance, his deputies are be­sieged by pro­test­ers who gather out­side Par­lia­ment or wher­ever else the mo­bile and an­gry horde gets wind of them, and for­eign coun­ter­parts avoid meet­ing with our for­merly trav­el­ing prime min- is­ter. How did it all go so wrong, so quickly? We are wit­ness­ing the quick­en­ing vor­tex caused by the po­lit­i­cal in­er­tia of the past few decades. Af­ter par­a­lyz­ing the econ­omy it is now spread­ing to the spheres of pol­i­tics and so­ci­ety. The dis­tance from to no­ is min­i­mal and PASOK has proved this be­yond doubt. Even as the gov­ern­ment was ini­ti­at­ing in­ter­minable de­bates on the In­ter­net, the party’s or­gans were be­ing dis­solved. PASOK has a gen­eral but he has no hi­er­ar­chy to com­mand, but rather a mass of dif­fer­ent groups at war with each other. (Our par­ties were al­ways like this, but now their lack of back­bone has be­come an ob­sta­cle to their sur­vival as they have to take very dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions.) The end­less talk about mi­nor is­sues is no sub­sti­tute for dis­cus­sions on is­sues of ma­jor im­por­tance, such as eco­nomic and so­cial re­forms, the re­duced in­comes of cit­i­zens and long-term ar­range­ments with the coun­try’s cred­i­tors. Pol­i­tics be­comes noth­ing more than an empty shirt, a shopfront with no mer­chan­dise be­hind it. And the gov­ern­ment ap­pears to be noth­ing more than a speech­less ob­server of events. The vac­uum is filled by crowds in the streets: Wher­ever peo­ple feel un­pro­tected they look for groups to join, the rifts be­tween groups widen, mod­er­ate voices are lost in the shouts and ex­trem­ism of oth­ers. Ev­ery­one fears ev­ery­one else. When we see re­peat­edly that the law is ap­plied se­lec­tively, no one can feel safe and no one can feel free. The peo­ple’s rage stems from a sense of in­jus­tice, that they are the ones who must pay for the crimes of oth­ers. But it comes also from the anger of be­ing de­ceived – by those who for so many years pre­tended to gov­ern but did not do any­thing to keep the coun­try from crash­ing on the rocks.

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