Election date frolics

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When will elections be held? It's the standard question we journalists have to put up with when on holiday. Perhaps, we should try a T-shirt saying "I have no idea when elections will be held." The truth is, no one knows. Nor does the answer depend on one person alone. Government sources say that in the morning the prime minister considers holding snap elections after the summer, but in the afternoon decides to postpone them for spring. He is obviously weighing the polls. Should he see a good opportunity after the summer, he will call elections. If PASOK retains its lead, we should be in for a lengthy election campaign up to March.

This very simple fact has given ample fodder for extensive speculation and analyses in newspapers and on TV. Just to keep ourselves busy, politicians and journalists have been speculating about the return of Michalis Christoforakos, former CEO of Siemens Hellas, as part of their efforts to predict the timing of the election.

But why all this obsession with the election date? First, because it's an easy topic for discussion. You can go on for days using only scant information to keep holidaymakers interested. Second, the elections are very important to some of our politicians. For some, their pension depends on the polls. However, elections are even more important to many entrepreneurs whose contracts actually depend on the state. Contractors and other businesspeople who own or who have a stake in media groups have to know when the elections will take place so that they can arrange their business.

So small talk between journalists and their sources, as it were, becomes "news." The media are simply recycling the conversations held around Kolonaki Square and on the beaches of Myconos. Something is discussed at a table one night and becomes a political issue the next day, only to be talked about again as news at the same, or a nearby table the following evening.

The funniest thing is that half of those asking when elections will be held won't even bother to vote when the time comes.

«Kathimerini» English Edition, 18.8.2009