On the one hand, we have dozens of public opinion polls pointing to the fact that the government is no longer popular, that it has lost much of its credibility and is lagging significantly behind New Democracy in voter preference, to the extent that many experts believe the situation is irreversible and Greece is facing early elections.
On the other hand, there is a prevailing sense that the leftist-led coalition is doing everything in its power – using every trick in the book – to improve its image and stay in government by winning the next elections, whenever they may take place.
This would be just another day in politics were it not for the fact that the government’s efforts are characterized by a mixture of populism and cynicism, with complete disregard for their toll on the country. In order to achieve its goal, it is has been painstakingly establishing itself in the country’s institutions, taking over control of sectors of public administration, influencing the justice system, flouting laws and using funds to that end alone. This is Plan A, with Plan B being a return to power as soon as possible if the next elections are lost.
It is obvious that the government’s desperate struggle to put off the reduction of the tax-free threshold and cuts to pensions – as demanded by the country’s creditors and particularly the International Monetary Fund – until 2019 and 2020 is as much a part of Plan B as it is of Plan A. If these measures were deemed essential for the good of the country, they would normally have to be put into effect now, regardless of the cost. But the government cares only for its longevity, not for the country. That is why it agreed to the measures, but only so that their effects can be felt after its term is finished and rest on the shoulders of the next government.
In the meantime, the coalition has been very busy coming up with new schemes to put more voters on the public payroll, to grant permanent status to fixed-term contract workers, to introduce legislative amendments that will see the clientelist state back in full operation, and to deceive the public with all sorts of investigative committees, as the prime minister visits religious sites and cuts ribbons on highways started by his predecessors.
The most likely scenario is that all this will not help the premier with Plan A, but this, of course, is why Plan B is already in the pipeline: so that the current government will be able to accuse the next administration of implementing the painful measures that should have been adopted now.