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17° Nicosia,
20 February, 2019
 
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‘I am not getting involved’

Very few respectable people want to get involved in politics

Alexis Papachelas

Alexis Papachelas

One of the biggest problems in our times is the fact that very few respectable people want to get involved in politics or public life in general. And who can blame them? Politics has become an extreme sport suitable only for people with strong stomachs and nerves. In the era of social media, what we used to call a “hot seat” has become a Colosseum. Any notion of privacy has been lost. We witness character assassinations on the internet either because someone ordered them or because spectators want to see some “blood” in the arena.

Anyone who gets involved in politics or public life and makes the mistake of putting his/her signature on a major decision is certain to be caught up in a legal tangle for several years. It is an uneven battle against small and big interests, a slow and dysfunctional justices system, trade unions and unhinged individuals.

Even those who genuinely want to offer their services to the country quickly grasp the degree of difficulty. They also see that their income will be small. We are talking, of course, about the legal income, because there is also the type of politician who lives on “sponsorships.” Therefore, if you are a serious person who intends to get things done and you do not want to fall “hostage” to anyone or be in anyone’s pocket, you need to be very brave to take this step.

In addition, voters’ choices of representatives at the ballot box also don’t help. We keep protesting about our politicians, but continue to send TV personalities to Parliament instead of modest, accomplished fellow citizens. It also seems like that small cross on the ballot has the magical ability of turning serious people into silly, unscrupulous individuals.

To be fair, this isn’t solely a Greek problem. One only has to see what is happening in the United Kingdom, a country that has a long political history and solid institutions. Looking at Prime Minister Theresa May’s rumored successors, you understand how structural and international this problem really is.

People who fight their way to success in life prefer the private sector. When they are pressured by politicians to enter politics, they respond monotonously: “Anything you want. I will help, but I’m not getting involved in politics and the public sector.”

The danger here is that politics will become a closed profession for relatives, people who could not find employment elsewhere and party cadres. How will we escape this trap? There are no easy answers. For one thing, voters must definitely become more demanding. We must stop sending cranks or people who have never worked a day in their lives to Parliament. At the same time, we must give incentives and some institutional protection to those brave enough to step into the political arena.

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Politics  |  Papachelas  |  Greece  |  Cyprus  |  UK  |  Institutions  |  Public

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