Shift­ing ob­jec­tives

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ANGELOS STANGOS

Few peo­ple ac­tu­ally care about the whole TV li­cense is­sue. Only a small mi­nor­ity know what the Coun­cil of State is and what it does, or the de­tails of the games the gov­ern­ment is play­ing with the Con­sti­tu­tion and the in­sti­tu­tions. Even fewer are in­ter­ested in know­ing, as they are con­sumed by the prob­lems of day-to-day life, some just try­ing to sur­vive. Per­haps that is why the gov­ern­ment is go­ing to such lengths to keep the is­sue in the head­lines. Maybe it is us­ing the TV li­cense de­ba­cle to di­vert at­ten­tion away from its de­ci­sions in other ar­eas that are a lot more im­por­tant to the cit­i­zens. But is that re­ally the case? The is­sue of the broad­cast­ing licenses has be­come deeply po­lit­i­cal be­cause of the gov­ern­ment, which from the out­set politi­cized the whole process in a bid to ma­nip­u­late the news and, pos­si­bly, en­ter­tain­ment. That was ev­i­dent in ev­ery sin­gle move it made, un­til it even­tu­ally came up against the Coun­cil of State’s rul­ing – whose ex­act word­ing we still don’t know – and ended in po­lit­i­cal fail­ure and chaos. At a first glance, the gov­ern­ment ap­pears to have read­justed its ob­jec­tives after the rul­ing and is scram­bling to con­tain the fall­out by re­sort­ing to var­i­ous wily ruses to side-step the court’s de­ci­sion. On the one hand, it wants to en­sure that the po­lit­i­cal fail­ure does not be­come an out­right de­feat with un­pre­dictable con­se­quences, and, on the other, it wants to re­store some or­der in­side the rul­ing SYRIZA party so that it can pro­tect Min­is­ter of State Nikos Pap­pas, who came up with the TV li­cens­ing law that started all the trou­ble. There is no doubt that Pap­pas’s han­dling of the en­tire af­fair has caused fric­tion in the coali­tion and in SYRIZA, to the ex­tent that it was no­ticed by those on the out­side and prompted the need for some face-sav­ing ac­tion. Again, though, is that all? The stance adopted by Pap­pas and also by Speaker Nikos Vout­sis in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day sug­gests a few things. First, that Pap­pas has the firm sup­port of Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras. Sec­ond, that Tspi­ras has forced the party to fall in line with the “tough stance” over the TV licenses and to dis­re­gard the Coun­cil of State’s rul­ing, thus the change in Vout­sis’s tone. Third, that the key po­lit­i­cal ob­jec­tive has been read­justed once more to a drive to iso­late New Democ­racy, some­thing that the gov­ern­ment be­lieves has been par­tially achieved by the fact that nei­ther PA­SOK nor To Po­tami fully backed the main op­po­si­tion’s line over the whole TV li­cense af­fair. The new ques­tion that arises, there­fore, is whether the gov­ern­ment is paving the way for elec­tions and a full-out clash with the op­po­si­tion. But again, is that all? Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t.

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