COMMENT

Straight talk

By Alexis Papachelas

The people who elected the present government have a very reasonable demand. They want to know exactly what threshold Greece needs to pass in order to be safe and remain in the eurozone.

The three parties that make up the coalition government were all over the place before the elections and are still all over the place today in terms of the pointless and utterly unimplementable agreement they signed after forming the government and in which they ostensibly outlined their joint stance on a number of different issues, as well as their so-called ?red lines,? or measures that they would simply not accept. For the past few months, meanwhile, public discourse has been conducted in a complete void, without accounting for the reactions and decisions that the team of inspectors from the country?s creditors will display when they arrive at the end of the week and upon whose assessment the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank will decide whether to grant Greece further funding. The result of this non-discussion is that people have been allowed to nurture high expectations, which are then dashed by newspaper and television reports warning of a Greek euro exit.

But the moment of truth is nearly upon us, and I believe that people who voted realistically in June expect straight talk from the country?s political leadership. Is this really going to be the last round of salary and pension cuts? Will fundamental changes be made to labor laws and, if so, why?

The Greek political system is suffering from a lack of credibility. Former Prime Minister George Papandreou paid dearly for saying that ?the money?s there? before the elections and being faced with the magnitude of the country?s bankruptcy. Credibility can only be regained by telling the truth. Either way, a good part of the populace has been pushed by its perception of its best interests into the arms of SYRIZA and other anti-memorandum parties.

It is crucial, though, that the percentage of people who believe that they have nothing more to lose if Greece collapses and is pushed out of the eurozone does not increase. If we want to avoid uncontrollable and violent desperation, two things need to happen: Either the country?s creditors need to soften their stance and define once and for all where they have set the bar for Greece, or the political leadership, from the prime minister down, needs to be straight with the people.

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