Po­lit­i­cal tox­i­c­ity, and the an­ti­dote

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY MARIA KATSOUNAKI

If one could chan­nel all the psy­cho­log­i­cal strain, the ten­sion and the pas­sion gen­er­ated by the No­var­tis bribery case into some growth-in­duc­ing goal in­stead, the re­sults would be im­pres­sive. The ques­tion about why we are wast­ing all this en­ergy on cases which – as shown by pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence – ul­ti­mately re­main un­re­solved while the ac­tual wrong­do­ers go un­pun­ished would be naive if the tur­moil had been gen­er­ated in an eco­nom­i­cally ro­bust Greece, full of prospects. How­ever, scan­dal­mon­ger­ing is the only thing that is real about Greece, while the coun­try’s eco­nomic growth re­mains stuck in the realm of the imag­i­na­tion. It is not that we are not deal­ing here with an im­por­tant case, and one which po­ten­tially has many as­pects to it. But it is the names of po­lit­i­cal heavy­weights who have once again grabbed the head­lines. At the same time, very lit­tle is said about the way that medicine prices have been set in Greece. Or about how drug­mak­ing com­pa­nies have al­legedly been of­fer­ing kick­backs to thou­sands of doc­tors. Or for that mat­ter why such phe­nom­ena have re­curred again and again as si­lence and mis­in­for­ma­tion sub­sti­tute strong mon­i­tor­ing and in­ves­ti­ga­tion. A few days ago, Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis, the leader of the coun­try’s main op­po­si­tion party New Democ­racy, pointed out a se­ri­ous prob­lem: “When the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal life slides into scan­dal­mon­ger­ing and [po­lit­i­cal] tox­i­c­ity, it is very hard for con­sen­sus that would help the coun­try to emerge.” There is lit­tle new to this state­ment, but that does not make it any less im­por­tant. The ques­tion is what sec­tion of the Greek po­lit­i­cal class want con­sen­sus, if that means turn­ing their backs on pub­lic sen­ti­ment or swim­ming against the tide. For years now, waste has not been re­stricted solely to pub­lic money. What is clear is that the cost of this waste has sky­rock­eted: Greece is be­ing stripped of its se­ri­ous­ness, its man­power re­sources are be­ing de­pleted, while at the same time it has no re­serves of op­ti­mism. And the end re­sult is al­ways the same: scan­dals, po­lar­iza­tion, fear, hu­mil­i­a­tion and divi­sion. We hope to see Mit­so­takis move from (the right) words to ac­tion, from ac­cu­sa­tions to good­will ges­tures. The op­po­si­tion may not have the same power that the gov­ern­ment has, but it does have a share of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the tox­i­c­ity of pub­lic life. Build­ing con­sen­sus and pro­mot­ing re­forms are a prac­ti­cal af­fair.

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