A crit­i­cal mass

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

There is a cer­tain type of voter that has be­come rare and in­creas­ingly frus­trated. These peo­ple used to make up a small but crit­i­cal mass that de­cided po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments. They were the cen­trist vot­ers who moved to­ward the left to elect So­cial­ist Costas Simi­tis as prime min­is­ter, be­fore shift­ing to the right to elect Costas Kara­man­lis, a con­ser­va­tive. The cri­sis had them face un­ex­pected dilem­mas, such as whether they should sup­port New Democ­racy un­der An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras. And they did, driven by a sense of prag­ma­tism and the threat of Grexit. The bad news is that the cen­ter-right wasted an op­por­tu­nity to trans­form it­self back then. Parti- san re­flexes pre­vailed and the ND lead­er­ship chose the beaten track, par­tic­u­larly fol­low­ing the fa­tal gov­ern­ment reshuf­fle after the 2014 Euro­pean elec­tions. The race to elect a leader for Greece’s cen­ter­left spawned fresh il­lu­sions. Many peo­ple stood in line to vote politi­cians with a re­formist pro­file. The bal­lot out­come left them deeply dis­ap­pointed, as if they were at­tend­ing a ser­mon at the wrong church. Greece’s fi­nan­cial cri­sis has been drag­ging on for too long and cyn­i­cism is in­ten­si­fy­ing. This is frus­trat­ing this small mi­nor­ity of ro­man­tic ci­ti­zens, of­ten mak­ing them feel that the game has been lost. New Democ­racy is too old-fash­ioned in their eyes, while the cen­ter-left seems like a spinoff of the old PASOK. It’s time these vot­ers adapted to re­al­ity. The groups who pushed this coun­try in the di­rec­tion of re­form and Euro­peaniza­tion have since the time of Alexan­dros Yp­si­lan­tis al­ways been mi­nor­ity groups. The peo­ple who played a key part in Greece’s mod­ern­iza­tion could have eas­ily turned their back on the coun­try’s Balkan re­al­ity in­stead of choos­ing to put their nose to the grind­stone. But they went for it, and man­aged to come up with a vi­sion for the coun­try and in­spire the mid­dle class. To be sure, they made their fair share of com­pro­mises and did not al­ways feel com­fort­able with their po­lit­i­cal co-pas­sen­gers. But there is no other way. Those who suf­fer be­cause they can­not find the per­fect fit must fi­nally grow up. In re­cent years, Greece has re­gressed in­sti­tu­tion­ally, eco­nom­i­cally and cul­tur­ally. If the coun­try is to get back on course, it must first re­store its lost con­fi­dence and hopes. The big­gest risk comes from the fact that we are low­er­ing the bar both for our lead­ers and our­selves. Those who share this anx­i­ety can do no worse than build an ar­ti­fi­cial po­lit­i­cal is­land on which they can feel cozy and warm.

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