COMMENT

A generation away from rebirth

By Alexis Papachelas

Here’s how the situation stands: The current political system has nothing better to offer the country than the government that we have. No matter how much we whine or how angry we get at the ineptitude of some and the partisan games of others, we do not have a critical mass of young politicians that are capable of governing in a completely different manner.

Unfortunately, what this means in practical terms is that the current political system is not in a position to lead the country any further in terms of reforms. It doesn’t truly believe in these reforms and it does not have the stamina to clash with its traditional clientele. What’s more, the country’s political body lacks the necessary technocratic competence to see them through.

That’s one side of the story. At the same time, in the middle of all this chaos I really doubt that anyone would survive and govern like Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

This is a country of weak institutions, lacking a serious public administration. It is also burdened with an incredibly toxic environment in terms of interests and pressure.

During his days as premier, Costas Karamanlis referred to the political system as a “furnace.” Try a “blast furnace” these days. Samaras is proving to be particularly tough, a workaholic balancing with flexibility between the popular wisdom represented by Minister of State Dimitris Stamatis and the stern, technocratic approach of Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.

There are also those who believe that the country must inevitably experience a phase of being governed by someone like leftist opposition leader Alexis Tsipras in order to put to rest its leftist, post-dictatorship ideology before entering a phase of genuine rebirth. In the words of a cynical friend, this is an interesting academic approach. Indeed the country needs what I would call a “historical correction.” In other words, it needs to hit rock-bottom, truly realize what went wrong and then move onto a new generation of politicians who will lead the country forward with confidence, vision and strength. We’re all in search of the next Eleftherios Venizelos and Constantine Karamanlis, the country’s charismatic statesmen.

The question is how to we get from this point to a new generation and a period of renewal. Because in my mind it’s absolutely clear that it will take an actual generation to take the country forward, with the old guard playing only a transitional or stabilizing role.

When it comes to the supporters of creative chaos my objection is that they carelessly suggest that as nothing is happening now, we should just start afresh and move onto the next phase. They should ask themselves, just like the rest of us, at what cost this would happen and whether the country would be in a position to actually bear it.

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