Thursday, September 6, 2007

Greek Political Debate without the debate

Thursday, a little past 9pm the Great Political Debate was shown on almost every channel in Greece. It featured the leaders of 6 parties answering the questions of 6 journalists. Missing from the event was the leader of the Filleleutheri party (Liberal party) which does not have an elected official in either the Greek parliament or EU parliament.
No debate was had between the leaders, instead what we saw was a series of parallel questions and answers taking place between the politicians and journalists. All in all it was a major dissapointment. Nothing new was said, no one was pressured on a particular issue, especially since no hard questions were asked.

I am torn between deciding who was the biggest waste of space on the side of the journalists, was it Evangellatos or Liatsou who asked the softest of questions "What would you say to the little girl who asks, what makes a good PM"
What kinda question is that?!!!!! Who said he was a good PM anyway! Why doesn't he ask the little girl! I am sure an average schoolchild could govern more effectually and with more Concern and Justice for the average person than most of the clowns in parliament!

One thing that struck me was that the journalists were represented by 2 women (3 if you include the moderator) and 4 men. On the political side, only one woman! The best questions were asked by Papahelas and Tremi i thought.

I was very impressed with the confidence of the PM Karamanlis when he answered the questions directed at him. Especially when he admitted his own incompetence when he said it took him three years to figure out that checks and balances were needed when dealing with complicated bond investments to make sure that public money slated for pensions wouldn't continue to be lost. Eh... Three years!!! Three YEARS??? But he said it with such a confidence that i felt as though, yeah... he actually accomplished something, then i remember THREE YEARS!!!!

Papandreou was a bit of a dissapointment. Ok, in the previous post I mentioned how he was calm and that the average Greek doesn't want calm. Well you can put me in that camp too. He reminds me of the Australian Labour Leader Kevin Rudd who is also a former diplomat. They have been so indoctrinated to curb their language that they can be a bit too calm. So we saw a calm Papandreou state how New democracy implemented a policy of Blue Windows (hiring and appointing as civil servants only those who voted New Democracy), how ND sacked fire-fighting officials and replaced them with ND voters, leading to the incompetent fire response we saw, how ND is hiding evidence of their corrupt handling of the retirement bonds. All of this delivered in a calm manner. Stick a Pin in this man!! Doesn't he get angry? Shake him someone. Why is he trying to present himself as a serious candidate? He has the CV after all. Come on fight, show us you really want to be PM. (maybe i am too bloodthirsty, is it meant to be a bloodsport?)

The Communist party was represented by Ms Papariga, who was the only lady in the politician camp. Which was a bit unfortunate because she was perhaps the weakest link on the night. She couldn't answer the questions and instead resorted to stock standard replies. When asked if she was living in a sort of Utopia where health care, education etc could be free for all, she replied with "just because it doesnt exist elsewhere doesn't mean we can't do it here" well she does have a point. And how will she do it? Oooh sorry only two questions allowed, gotta move on to the next person.

Alavanos of SYRIZA was a very good speaker, he took the PM to task when he called protesting students as rabble rousing thugs. Unfortunatley the structure of the debate was such that the PM couldn't respond or explain himself as to why he slandered the students in such a way. But i am trying to remember a particular policy they raised... I don't remember, but i do know he spoke passionately. 9 points to him.

Karatzaferis of LAOS, the christian orthodox right party was also a good speaker and it was interesting to note how he hooked his seemingly racist policy of anti-immigration onto statements of ND, particularly those where they alluded to foreigners setting fires in Greece. And he delivered the best line of the night when he answered the question directed at the PM - "What would you say to the little girl who asks, what makes a good PM" He responded with "Be born a Karamanlis or a Papandreou" And with that one line i can see a whole lot votes going his way, irrelevant of what his policies are.

Last on the list was Papathemilis of the Christian Rennaisance party. A former PASOK member and affiliate of ND. The only real reason of his existence in this election is to stop the bleeding of votes from ND to LAOS. He ignored the time limit continously and just droned on and on and on. His biggest achievement was proclaiming that he has been in parliament since 1974 and is therefore the most successfull politician. Someone should tell the person that politics isn't a marathon race, its about doing something for the people... but maybe he does know that and thats why he refers to it as a marathon.

All in all, despite the many and obvious flaws of the so called 'debate' it did give the viewer some insight into the candidates, their policies or their lack of. It would be interesting to find out how many people watched, seeing as it was on every channel. When i stepped onto the balcony there weren't any cars on the road and i could hear the 'debate' coming out of neighbours windows. Which shows that people are interested in politics and debate, which is always a healthy thing.


graffic said...

My greek understanding was not enough to follow the debate but it was tooooooo quiet.

Nightboat said...

An interesting post - but then pretty much all your dispatches are, Vassili. This is a great blog and one I value a great deal as a member of the diaspora.

Unknown said...
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Vassili - Mike said...

Graffic: Yes it was, and unfortunately not a real debate.
Rokos: Thanks for telling me, i do wonder who reads and why, and if you wanna me to fill you in on anything going on here, just tell me and i will try my best
Hans: LAOS is a tricky one, but I do think they can do more good - as long as they are treated seriously and we attack racism at the root, and not the personality

dorin said...

I can't understand you. Why you blame Papandreou for his calm? A good politician has to be calm when he have to chose the good decision. He is the only among the 6 politicians who represents something in the international politics arena. He is the president of the Socialist International and he is apreciated in all the european capitals.

Vassili - Mike said...

Dorin: I dont understand myself sometime. Its just that Greece has been burnt to a crisp, corruption is on the increase, New D is allowing shipping comapnies to pollute the Aegean, it is allowing tourist developments on the beaches, turning them into concrete bunkers. It appears that The government organised a corrupt brokerage deal to steal from the pension scheme, and thats just what happened in the past few months. That makes me Angry! and I guess i want to see others angry as well. But you are right, he was more statesman like - otherwise he would be a ranting loon like me, but does statesman like win the election?