POLITICAL TIME AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF NATIONS AND SPECIFIC REGIONS
Time is continuous. We humans segment it so that we can regulate issues that concern us, starting from the length of our own lives and encompassing almost all matters related to life, including our own, that of our relatives, our nation, and even humanity. Within these matters, political time plays a crucial role in the progress of societies. This is because the political system directing each society leads it to progress or to stagnate, depending on how it approaches political time. Political time is a dynamic entity, and the evaluation of the events of each period depends on their impact on future periods. Since the dynamics of the evolution of modern societies are rapid and uncertain, political time becomes very dense, requiring political planning with a much greater time depth. Otherwise, the resulting developments will not be controllable.
In democratic systems where governments are elected through universal suffrage, politicians are authorised to make decisions with a long-term perspective to function in an international reality that evolves very rapidly. Given that political time for producing stable and fruitful results for critical issues, such as, for example, promoting national goals at the central level or ensuring continuous progress and prosperity at the local level, is much longer than the terms of elected representatives, a substantial conflict arises between the broad and narrow views of political time. Unfortunately, citizens, who are called upon to renew or terminate the terms of elected representatives through universal suffrage, are, to a large extent, influenced by the narrow view of political time. They evaluate politicians based on the short-term impacts of these decisions, hindering politicians from shaping their policies with a broad time perspective. Overcoming this opposition can only be achieved through persuasive, analytical, and well-documented arguments. This approach, in conjunction with the overall acceptance climate of those in power at the central or local level, can influence the conscience of citizens, leading them to directly correlate the immediate and individually beneficial with the long-term and generalised social result. This is a challenging endeavour for politicians, given that its failure leads to election losses, and few dare to undertake it. Since the preceding analysis includes many theoretical considerations and general concepts, I will attempt to make it more understandable with two examples, one at the central and one at the local level. In these examples, the negative effects of the narrow view of political time during the critical decision-making period have manifested and been documented by the citizens.
- Those among us who are older remember the first example, at the central level. It was the pension reform attempted by the Simitis government in 2001, aiming to maintain the ability of pension funds to provide pensions for their members over the next two decades. The party trade unionists and the great majority of the party’s politicians organised strong protests, and the bill was withdrawn. The political pressure led to the loss of power by the party in the subsequent elections, the weakening of trade unions, and eventually economic bankruptcy and internal devaluation of the incomes of all workers through drastic cuts imposed by the agreements of understanding (μνημόνια).
- Τhe second example, at the local level, dates back to 1998, when local government was redesigned with the abolition of Communities and the creation of Municipalities. In our area, the proposal to revive the old municipalities (which in Western Mani used to be Avia, Kardamyli and Lefktro) faced strong political opposition, because of the exclusion of certain communities. During the crucial preparatory period, the Regional Councils that were established cut off the communities of Verga and Mikri Mantineia, despite the opposition of the majority of the representatives of these two communities. In order to overcome these obstacles, it was proposed that the seat of the new municipality of Avia should not be Kampos (as it used to be), but Verga, a proposal that would have been universally accepted by the citizens of these two communities. However, the Regional Council of Kampos did not even want to discuss the proposal… The results, 25 years later, are the abolishment of the municipality of Avia with Kampos as its seat, the underrepresentation of Verga in the city of Kalamata, and the struggle for population numbers in the newly-created municipality of Western Mani.
From these examples, it is evident that the effectiveness of long-term management of political time is crucial both for state and local affairs.
THE EDITORIAL BOARD