Com­man­ders with­out troops

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY PANTELIS BOUKALAS

So long as opin­ion polls show a con­sid­er­able seg­ment of the elec­torate shy­ing away from Greece’s two main­stream par­ties, ef­forts to lure th­ese seem­ingly gullible vot­ers will in­ten­sify. Among those vy­ing for the un­de­cided vote are the politi­cians of the in­creas­ingly vague po­lit­i­cal cen­ter. They seem to be­lieve that this rep­re­sen­ta­tional vac­uum, as it were, is suit­able ground for a po­lit­i­cal coun­ter­at­tack – or, as a rather po­etic PASOK chief Fofi Gen­ni­mata put it, for a “creative as­sault into the fu­ture.” Such phrase­ol­ogy, how­ever, does not work any­more. It could be its abuse at the hands of the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try, or it could be the fact that mantras of this sort have been used by politi­cians in the past to ad­ver­tise world-sav­ing vi­sions that later proved to be noth­ing but pipe dreams. The ide­o­log­i­cal con­tent as­cribed to the cen­ter by its po­lit­i­cal suit­ors is hard to de­fine. The ac­tual num­ber of th­ese suit­ors is no more cer­tain. Apart from Gen­ni­mata, there are also Evan­ge­los Venize­los, Ge­orge Papandreou, Stavros Theodor­akis, An­dreas Lover­dos, Anna Dia­man­topoulou and Gior­gos Floridis. The list could per­haps be ex­panded to in­clude Yian­nis Boutaris, Gior­gos Kami­nis, Thanas­sis Theocharopou­los, Haris Theo­haris and Alekos Pa­padopou­los. Rarely does one see such a high num­ber of po­ten­tial com­man­ders for an army that does not yet ex­ist. In fact, it may never form – at least with the size and en­thu­si­asm en­vis­aged by those con­test­ing for its lead­er­ship. The mas­sive dis­ap­point­ment caused by the choices of cen­trist politi­cians while they were in power (or as coali­tion part­ners) can­not be reme­died through the re­turn of politi­cians who de­fected (in fact their re­turn could make oth­ers leave) or through luke­warm wishes for unity. PASOKstyle pol­i­tics is too deeply rooted to cure with the re­cruit­ment of yes­ter­day’s cadres, with PR stunts and forced smiles in front of a New Year’s cake. PASOK’s Venize­los is not wrong when he says that “some peo­ple at least owe an ex­pla­na­tion.” He would be even more right if by say­ing “some peo­ple” he was ac­tu­ally re­fer­ring to all of PASOK – in­clud­ing him­self. The con­stant mi­gra­tion of the pa­tri­cians of pol­i­tics (long cut off from the ple­beians) be­tween dif­fer­ent par­ties and self-styled move­ments, and the trans­fer of MPs from one party to the next with­out any con­vinc­ing ex­pla­na­tion strengthen the im­pres­sion that th­ese pur­port­edly ma­jor po­lit­i­cal events are in fact tak­ing place in a po­lit­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal vac­uum. You can’t make up for lost ground with a weak ide­o­log­i­cal ar­gu­ment.

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