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Tales from the Coffeeshop: The political ideology of promising all things to all people

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Presidential candidate and Disy chief, Averof Neophytou, was on a high on Friday, when Greece’s PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the leader of the European People's Party, Manfred Weber, attended the party’s ‘political-ideological’ conference and backed his candidacy, speaking about him in glowing terms

THE MASS mourning of the previous week was replaced by mass indignation on Friday when Politis broke the story about the attempts of a senior police officer to secure film footage from the personal life of the central prison director Anna Aristotelous.

Perhaps I exaggerate, for literary effect, because we did not have the great and the good appearing on radio and TV shows to express their indignation, despite the concerted efforts of all the media to generate mass outrage.

It did not happen, probably because Aristotelous’ popularity is confined to the journalistic family. She could never have the mass appeal of someone who was in charge of the payment of state benefits to people, although she is said to be popular with prisoners.

Her story did get mass coverage and she also appeared on television shows on Friday to explain what had happened, which was not that much. A cop with not a very high IQ – there is lot of them about – high up in the hierarchy of the drug squad, asked a convict, inside for drug crimes, to secure a video of Aristotelous’ personal life.

Unfortunately, none of the reports gave a clue what part of her personal life the cop was interested in. Did he want a video of her taking out the rubbish, watching TV, washing up the dishes or having sex?

 

THIS WAS an opportunity for many hacks to indulge in their favourite part of the job – taking the moral high ground and expressing their outrage about the corruption of the cop. They missed, however, the substance of story.

That low intelligence is no obstacle to rising high up in the ranks of the police force. In fact, it could be said that any display of intelligence could work as a handicap to a cop’s promotion prospects. The cop, who often appeared on television – if these allegations were true – could be nominated for a Darwin award.

First, he texted his demands to the convict, from his personal phone, so there could be a record of them. Politis reproduced some of them. “All I want are some videos that really harm her. If you have, or find, them send them to me and I know what to do before Anna goes to another position.” He also mentioned her name, so he could not claim he was referring to someone else.

Second, he trusted a convict, reportedly serving a long time for drug offences, to help him out. Some reports suggested he also promised his convict friend money and to secure his conditional release.

Third, he actually believed that a guy stuck in a prison cell could obtain videos of Aristotelous’ “personal moments.”

 

ARISTOTELOUS is one those public officials with great skill at using the media for building up her personal profile. She always gets a positive press, to a large extent, because she is good at her job as prison director, but also as result of her media savvy.

In this case, she could have reported the cop to his boss and to the attorney-general without the media fanfare, but she knew that the publicity would not only help reinforce the personal profile she had been cultivating – a good and honest public official – but also win public sympathy.

She was the victim of a male chauvinist cop, who could not accept that a woman was doing a good job in what had always been a male position and wanted to publicly humiliate her. This is the narrative so far, Aristotelous explaining on TV why she went public, unable to resist the temptation of a little more profile-building.

She said there was no such video and added: “When a senior officer, with such superficiality, invades someone’s personal life, then such phenomena of corruption should not be covered up. Neither my standing, nor my dignity, nor my ethics permit me to allow these phenomena to remain.”

What is the betting the cop’s lawyers will claim that the use of his texts to the convict was a violation of personal data.

 

PRESIDENTIAL candidate and Disy chief, Averof Neophytou, was on a high on Friday, when Greece’s PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the leader of the European People’s Party, Manfred Weber, attended the party’s ‘political-ideological’ conference and backed his candidacy, speaking about him in glowing terms.

Prez Nik also attended and endorsed Averof’s candidacy more directly than he had done in the past. He could not have done otherwise, given that Mitsotakis and Weber, who had taken the trouble to travel here to back Averof, were listening. He even took a swipe at his protégé, without naming him, for threatening to split the Disy vote as had happened in 2003.

I have my doubts whether the endorsement of a candidate by Nik is a positive, given his current standing, but apparently he still has influence over Disy voters, for reasons outsiders cannot understand. And he bravely defied his daughters, who according to the Archbishop, back the new Makarios’ candidacy.

 

I WAS wondering whose idea it was to title this election campaign gathering a ‘political ideological conference’. It is the sort of label used by Marxist parties that love theoretical debates and are regularly going through identity crises.

Liberal, right-wing parties have no such issues to address because they are pragmatic and know what they stand for. Was there really a need for Disy to delve into its ideology, or was the intention to expose the political emptiness of candidates that have neither politics nor ideology, but are promising all things to all people?

Speaking of Marxist terminology, another such term has slipped into public discourse – revisionist. Mitsotakis and his ministers use it regularly in reference to President Erdogan’s aggressive rhetoric and our Nik has picked it up and uses it all the time. He would not fall into the trap of Erdogan’s “revisionist rhetoric,” he said on Thursday. He is “revisionist” because he interprets international law in new ways, that suit his agenda.

For Marxists it is a term of abuse levelled against heretics, who challenge the faith’s teachings about the violent overthrow of capitalism through revolution. No revisionists were heard at Disy’s ‘political, ideological conference’.

 

THE NEW Makarios, in his classically inoffensive style, is declining Averof’s proposal for a public debate of presidential candidates, for now, because his priority was his dialogue with citizens “to whose expectations, everyone states, we must respond.”

This dialogue, said the hot air salesman, after his meeting with Edek’s Dr Sizo, “is based on social liberalism and its aim, among other things, is the strengthening and broadening of the middle class, a middle class that constitutes the backbone of the economy and of society.”

On Thursday he met the bosses of the teaching union Poed, and according to an announcement issued by his campaign office, “expanding on his ideological-political (that phrase again) framework, he mentioned that education constitutes a priority of his programme, as it affects horizontally the whole spectrum of society.” He also briefed Poed “about his priorities in relation to public education, but also education in general.”

How does he know that education is a priority of his programme considering this programme will be ready in autumn, after he has completed his dialogue with citizens? The citizens he talks to might not believe education affects horizontally the whole spectrum of society.

 

THE BIGGEST fiasco of Prez Nik’s rule has got to be energy policy. With his publicity-minded handling of the matter he has succeeded in excluding Kyproulla from all the energy plans of the region. This despite his declarations that we would become a regional energy hub. An energy snub is what he has really achieved.

On Wednesday, at the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, a memorandum of understanding was signed by Egypt, Israel and EU for the supply of gas. It would go from Israel gas fields to Egypt’s liquefaction plants and exported to EU countries. Kyproulla’s only contribution was that energy minister Natasa Pilidou chaired the forum, which was also attended by Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen. Kyproulla, the prospective energy hub, did not even get a mention.

All these declarations and memorandums in the context of Nik’s trilateral alliance-making with Egypt and Israel, appeared to have secured one thing – Kyproulla’s exclusion from all the region’s energy plans. Perhaps candidate, Andreas Mavroyiannis’ controversial proposal to sell our gas to Turkey is not such a bad idea after all, given that nobody else wants it, because they are buying from our trilateral allies.

 

AWARE that the EU-Egypt-Israel MoU was a bit of an embarrassment, the government found a new false gas hope to offer. CyBC news on Friday night said the government was looking positively at the proposal of the Energean, an E&P company, to bring gas to Kyproulla by pipeline from Israel, where it would be liquefied and exported to Europe. All we need to know is whether this will happen before or after the EastMed pipeline is set up.

 

SORRY, that I have run out of space and cannot write about the tashinopitta saga, but I promise next week I will not only have a full economic analysis but will also examine the tashinopitta’s political ideological significance, as it affects horizontally the whole spectrum of society.

 

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