I can’t help but be impressed by the apparent lack of any shame or sense of personal responsibility of politicians in general, and in this case, the politicians in Greece.
At lunch I briefly turned on NET, the Greek public television, and saw none other than Mr. Antonis Samaras. While I greatly respect his personal abilities, I was struck by the fact that in the interview, he stated that his goals are to re-unite ND, and re-connect it with the citizens. I couldn’t help thinking: isn’t this is the same politician who’s defection from the Mitsotakis government caused the fall of that government in 1992? Exactly which unity is he talking about?
NET then showed a GPO poll with the four contenders for ND President. Once of these candidates, who’s name I will omit, was widely known as “Mr/Ms. 10%” during their term in office. The 10% was a reference to the kickback level requested when confronted with a licensing request or other regulatory issue.
Just before this, NET showed Minister Filippos Petsalnikos, now Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament, receiving an update on the Greek economy from the Governor of the Central Bank of Greece. Mr. Petsalnikos is the same politician who, together with Theodoros Pangalos and Antonis Papadopoulos, was forced to resign over their handling of the Ocalan affair in 1999. Today, Mr. Pangalos is Deputy Prime Minister.
What to make of this? Should we assume, as the optimists do, that everyone is entitled to a mistake, and that a re-election is sufficient grounds to wipe away past sins? Should we assume that no one is perfect, and therefore we cannot cast any stones?
Should we relativise the issue? Since all Greek politicians are corrupt, why do we worry about these individuals in particular?
Should we assume that there is quite simply no accountability in politics?
One thing is quite clear to me: I’m disgusted at seeing these same faces, preaching their tired speeches of responsibility and duty, when they apparently consider themselves exempt from this. Given that none of them has shown any particular sign of competence in terms of good public administration, I honestly wonder why they are there.
It’s too bad that neither the heads of our political parties, nor our voters, have determined that the best thing to do with a useless politician is to retire them. This does not mean promote them, it means send them home to anonymity, where [one hopes] they can do no more harm to the country.
Instead, we have the opposite system: politicians collect a long and impressive record of failures, omissions, accidents, errors and corrupt or at least highly questionable decisions. And to reward them, they are not only re-elected, but re-nominated to sensitive, executive posts.
This apparently lasts for generations, either until they suffer a crushing electoral defeat, or they suffer a debilitating health crisis, or they parachute their children into their Parliamentary seat.
Is there such a collective failure of innovation, creativity and effectiveness in our political system? And what are we going to do about it?