Recently, as I was passing through the Athens airport one morning, I met a politician that I know. He walked with his head lowered, as if to hide.
Is something wrong, I asked him? “No, but these are not the best times to be recognized,” he replied.
The same answer, I believe, would be given by many politicians. This is definitely not the best time to be a politician in Greece.
I do though want to emphasize that this does not mean that there are no good – conscientious and competent – politicians, particularly among the young. The vast majority, however, would do the society a favor by finding another line of work.
It is indeed a big responsibility –and an honor – to serve as a representative of the people and manage the affairs of a country on their behalf. So if you do not have the requisite skills, don’t do it.
The people of Greece today blame virtually the entire political class for the crisis, but they ignore their own responsibility.
One way or another, the political class is in trouble. In simple words, it is dysfunctional and has little more to offer. The situation in the country speaks for itself. Yet, although it is discredited in the eyes of the people, they are still ensconced in power – despite the evidence of their many and great sins. That is why they feel their only salvation lies in the extension of their tenure.
It is clear even to the naked eye now that the supreme concern of the political class is to maintain its privileges. They are aware that in the event of elections most of them will lose their jobs. And they have no idea what they would do next. They have done nothing else in their lives.
And this focus on the needs of the politicians, in comparison with the public interest, further increases the gap between the people and the politicians.
Yet, politicians continue to behave as if nothing much has changed in the country. While the “Titanic” is sinking, the ship’s orchestra continues to entertain the passengers in first class …
One of the most important current issues for the politicians, for example, is who will be the next president of the Republic. Certainly this is a serious constitutional matter, a matter that can also trigger elections …
For the people, however, as was my experience in the provinces, this and other political issues is of little importance.
The only issue that counts for the people is their survival.
Note the following: Tempers flared in a conversation I had in Crete. A man spoke in a loud voice about the soup kitchens feeding his hungry countrymen, the tourists who do not spend enough money and the youth who are migrating. He went so far as to compare the current situation with WWII.
He added: “That’s enough. There is a lot going on. It’s better not to talk about it.”
I let it pass, but I asked him later, “You were referring to the suicides, right?”
“Yes,” he said, quietly, staring at the ground. “That’s what I meant. There have been many but they don’t talk about.”
“But why so many?” I persisted. “Because the Cretan is proud,” he replied. “And they have brought him to this point.”
I said “but the government talks about a primary surplus, a gradual improvement in the economy.”
“Nobody believes them,” he replied. And he is not alone.
It is obvious that political parties are circling the wagons. The hour is late …
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is preparing to risk early elections.
SYRIZA has yet to win the trust of the people and Golden Dawn perceives a wide field of action.
The political system, therefore, cannot stand any more. The bureaucracy is unable to run the country. The people are on their knees. The institutions are crumbling. And there are no obvious solutions yet.
So what will happen?