OK, so everything is evidently back to normal: Supporters of different political parties are taking bus trips up and down the country to attend mass rallies; flags and banners adorn our streets and squares; the government is offering handouts in a bid to keep former supporters happy, and to…
OK, so everything is evidently back to normal: Supporters of different political parties are taking bus trips up and down the country to attend mass rallies; flags and banners adorn our streets and squares; the government is offering handouts in a bid to keep former supporters happy, and to attract new ones; rumors abound regarding secret ballots.
Really, how different would things be if 66 people had not died in the recent fires that ravaged half of our country?
Many seem to have forgotten the nightmare we experienced just two weeks ago. But the fortnight that has elapsed since the murderous fires is a veritable age for the world of politics and the media. You see, so many important things have occured in the meantime: the candidature of Athens and Piraeus Prefect Fofi Gennimata to run in forthcoming elections, and the subsequent rejection of her request by the Supreme Court; the so-called political “debate” televised last week with the participation of six party leaders; the speeches of the main party leaders at the Thessaloniki International Fair; the refusal of ruling New Democracy to govern as anything but a one-party government; the lemon brandished by far-right Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader Giorgos Karadzaferis ahead of last week’s debate (he said he had brought it along “to add some flavor to a tasteless soup” – a clear reference to the rather flat debate).
We were then bombarded with analysis of the performance of party leaders during the debate. “(Prime Minister Costas) Karamanlis was nervous during the debate but comfortable during the press conference in Thessaloniki.” “(PASOK leader George) Papandreou was better than in 2004 but he did not tip the balance.” “(Coalition of the Radical Left leader Alekos) Alavanos made the best impression with his defense of young people being branded as troublemakers.”
We – or at least our politicians and journalists – appear to have the memory span of a goldfish. For them miracles, and disasters, only last for three days – as long as dramatic scenes can be broadcast live on television.
It is hardly a coincidence that of the 50 questions directed at the prime minister during the debate only three or four were about the fires. Evidently there is more interest in whether Karamanlis will aim to secure a third term in government if New Democracy wins elections on Sunday or whether he will step down if ND loses.
The media expressed similar interest in Papandreou’s intentions during last Sunday’s press conference in Thessaloniki. But do the interests expressed by the media have any bearing on those of the Greek public? If we are to judge from the assessment of most citizens of TV “news” bulletins, then the answer is “no.”
KATHIMERINI English Edition, 12/09/2007