COMMENT

Stepping more firmly into the role

By Pantelis Boukalas

PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos has called for the three-party coalition government to update their power-sharing agreement on the basis of “clearer and stricter rules.” He obviously has his reasons.

The other coalition partner, Democratic Left, has for its part demanded the formation of a three-party advisory committee that will work closely with the government to prevent or solve the kinds of problems that inevitably crop up in the business of running the country with three disparate parties at the helm. Surely the left-wing party has it own reasons to make this demand as well.

What is not certain is whether conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has any reason to change the way he works and deals with his coalition partners, which so far seems to be very much to his advantage.

The fact that two of the three coalition partners are challenging the operation of the government suggests that they have finally realized what many others knew from the start: that their role is purely complementary in a government that is clearly being run by Samaras – not just in terms of financial policy but also in terms of ideology.

This latter point is what is probably scaring PASOK cadres more than anything else, and certainly the people of Democratic Left. The prime minister’s over-inflated ego and his insistence on using the first person singular in every address to the public threaten to swallow up his junior partners, who have already been badly exposed.

PASOK and Democratic Left have felt like the poor relative every time they have heard second-hand a decision made by the prime minister without their input, such as when he announced that talks with the troika of foreign lenders were over while PASOK and Democratic Left were still discussing what approach they would take to negotiations.

To justify their support for the new round of austerity measures demanded by the troika, PASOK and Democratic Left have both argued that they did so in order to protect Greece from a euro exit. But this is not a one-size-fits-all argument like, for example, when Samaras decided to revoke a law granting second-generation immigrants more rights – another move that caught the two partners unaware.

The job of PASOK and Democratic Left is not restricted to sharing responsibility only when it comes to economic policy. They also put their popularity on the line for every decision made by the government, which is just about as right-wing as it would have been had New Democracy governed alone.

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