Out of touch with re­al­ity

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY COSTAS IORDANIDIS

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.

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