The tough­est chal­lenge

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

I keep hear­ing the fol­low­ing phrase: “these guys will never leave,” over and over again. Greece is a demo­cratic Euro­pean state, so they (the govern­ment) are bound to leave, just like the ones who will suc­ceed them, at one point. No one can tell ex­actly when this will hap­pen or in what way. One thing we should have learned by now is that there is lit­tle point in mak­ing pre­dic­tions. The life ex­pectancy of our gov­ern­ments has be­come short­ened and usu­ally does not ex­ceed two to two-and-a-half years. The way in which gov­ern­ments fall has also changed. From a tech­ni­cal point of view there is no piv­otal event, such as a cru­cial Par­lia­ment vote re­gard­ing new mea­sures, for in­stance. But the pres- sure put on deputies by their con­stituents can be­come un­bear­able. No mat­ter how strong their ide­o­log­i­cal po­si­tions may be, what­ever inse­cu­ri­ties they may nur­ture re­gard­ing mak­ing ends meet once their ca­reers as law­mak­ers are over, there comes a time when they say: “I can’t take this any longer, I’d rather go home.” So, this govern­ment will go at one point. Hope­fully it will not be a dra­matic event, or in any case not be­fore the coun­try en­ters a pe­riod of nor­mal­ity fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of the sec­ond review of its bailout pro­gram. Oth­er­wise, the dan­ger of the black hole grow­ing much, much big­ger be­cause of more in­sta­bil­ity and un­cer­tainty is tan­gi­ble, and the next govern­ment could find it­self in a sit­u­a­tion that sim­ply can­not be man­aged. Mean­while, the dam­age has been done. I’m putting aside ed­u­ca­tion and other cru­cial ar­eas where an ob­ses­sion with low­er­ing stan­dards is com­bined with in­cred­i­ble in­ef­fi­ciency in man­age­ment. Let’s agree that these can be fixed with a lot of hard work. It will take a very long time, how­ever, to fix the fol­low­ing two phe­nom­ena, which have deeply in­fected Greek so­ci­ety. The first has to do with the cyn­i­cism cul­ti­vated to­wards the coun­try’s in­sti­tu­tions and val­ues. The preva­lent no­tion of get­ting the job done at any cost has killed the few re­main­ing traces of de­cency left in our DNA. When the coun­try’s lead­er­ship be­haves and talks in this way the mes­sage goes out to everyone. Dis­parag­ing com­ments, abuse and threats that were con­sid­ered taboo since the fall of the junta have be­come a reg­u­lar prac­tice now. The sec­ond thing we will find dif­fi­cult to get over is the di­vi­sion and a ten­dency to­wards ex­trem­ism that has ap­peared. Po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments have pushed a lot of peo­ple to ex­tremes, from Arch­bishop Ierony­mos to moder­ate in­tel­lec­tu­als and politi­cians. Unit­ing a so­ci­ety that has rarely been so frag­mented will prove the next govern­ment’s big­gest chal­lenge.

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