Where are they leading us?
There is a prevailing sense that as public opinion and our international lenders continue to expect consensus and maturity from Greece, the country’s political leaders are heading in the completely opposite direction. New Defense Minister Panos Beglitis has suddenly “discovered” conservative New Democracy currents within the armed forces and is stirring up a line of thinking that the country put behind it years ago, with much effort and at great cost. New Democracy’s spokesman, Yiannis Michelakis meanwhile, is again interjecting in TV discussions, repeating the phrase “Shame on you” as though this constitutes political rhetoric in any way. One cynical but experienced friend gave his catastrophic explanation: Public opinion polls suggest that come the next elections, the two big political parties will be voted for only by the hard core of their supporters. On a practical level this means that their leaders now want to rally the fanatics by using methods of extreme polarization. But we need to ask ourselves whether this is what the country needs at the present juncture. Public opinion is watching with great concern, even fear, at the degradation of political rheto- ric and at the complete inability of the country’s main political players to find any common ground whatsoever. No one cares about who said what and who’s to blame for the fact that consensus between ruling PASOK and New Democracy has not been achieved. The damage the situation between them is causing is what interests people, and especially the fact that this behavior is making the political system look inadequate and completely immature. As if all that weren’t enough, the guard dogs of the party camps have joined the fray and are ready to nip at the heels of anyone who dares to stray from the extreme hard core. All of this is getting us nowhere, however. In Greece of 2011 there is a significant part of the middle class that is color-blind when it comes to politics. It is also dealing with the crisis in a coolheaded manner and is very well aware of how close Greece is to falling into the abyss. There was a time when this vital and informed section of society was able to determine the course of developments; now this sector is desperate and wondering where we think we’re going with this kind of attitude.