Out of touch with reality
US President Barack Obama suffered a major defeat on Tuesday in the election to determine control of Congress that was carried out halfway through his presidential mandate. The outcome had been discounted months ago and was to be expected somehow. The result may be attributed to various reasons, but not to the country’s current financial state given that the US growth rate is moving above the 3 percent mark while unemployment is just over 6 percent. In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron is facing a singular expression of dissatisfaction from Conservative MPs, which is accompanied by an increase in the popularity of Nigel Farage’s Euroskeptic UKIP. There are several reasons behind this challenging situation, but all are independent of the UK economy’s performance as growth is expected to venture beyond 3 percent and unemployment is sliding below 6 percent. A quick conclusion is that financial success, even at a time of general instability and broadening economic crisis, is not a crucial factor when it comes to shaping the electorate’s attitudes. And this is the case in countries prone to rational electorate behavior. Back in Greece, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his government have shown a clear improvement in terms of the country’s financial figures, at least with regard to the deficit, which has essentially gone down to zero. But during this time the parties comprising the coalition administration have lost considerable influence over the electorate, while opposition SYRIZA appears to be consolidating its gains in opinion polls. Greece’s so-called success story is not performing accordingly in political terms. The country, spontaneous, impatient and risk-taking by nature, is suffering from political fatigue. Its patience lasted for over four years and the existing economic recession cannot be balanced out by promising prospects with which the government is bombarding public opinion on a daily basis. The fact that the country entered a phase of acute political confrontation over the election of a new Greek president is hardly surprising. Incidentally, following the 1974 referendum which resulted in the abolition of the monarchy, Constantinos Karamanlis stated that the country had rid itself of a “carcinoma.” The term was telling of the New Democracy leader’s loathing of the Crown, which had appointed him premier of the Greek Rally government following Alexandros Papagos’s death. The country has now come up with a new pretext for unrelenting political debate. Obviously the problem does not lie with the regime, but the nature of its politicians, who, following decades of parliamentarism, insist on using immature and irrational tactics. Unable to adjust, they are demonstrating behavior which is incompatible with reality. A touch of self-awareness never hurt anyone.