Everything points to the fact that if we don’t adopt strict measures similar to those imposed by China, Europe and the rest of the western world will not be able to control the coronavirus epidemic. Several governments have apparently realized this and are talking about the possibility of 60-70 percent of their countries’ populations becoming infected. They are gradually taking measures to contain the spread of the virus, but are basically putting their hope in the arrival of summer and the discovery of a cure or a vaccination, both of which are still some time away. Basically, they are buying time because it is much harder for western democracies to impose the kind of draconian measures that China did – and this is why countries like Italy are paying such a heavy toll.
Here in Greece, it is very likely that a curfew will have to be imposed. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said that he will not tolerate a lackadaisical and irresponsible stance from the public for too long. Given the attitude of the average Greek, such a warning was just a matter of time. That said, the attitude of many other nations toward the measures for containing the epidemic has been nothing to emulate. It’s just that the transition has been gradual in order to limit the political as well as the economic impact. The effect on the economy will doubtless be extremely painful, also depending on the length of the crisis.
From a political point of view, Mitsotakis has shown himself to be a true leader. Of course, we cannot know how the situation will unfold moving ahead or how the public – which feels confident right now in the government’s response to the crisis – will react once the fear of getting sick has passed and we’re left with the consequences on the economy. The prime minister is certainly aware of this danger but has nevertheless managed to appear as a leader who combines determination with good public relations skills. He started showing his ability to lead when the crisis at the Greek-Turkish border began at the end of February, also scoring points with his government’s stance internationally, and continues to do so as the health crisis deepens, basically taking full responsibility for policy.
Mitsotakis is managing the crisis with a task force of close associates and has managed with his frequent appearances on television to give an impression of confidence and determination in that he knows what needs to be done and does it; of sensitivity in that he’s looking after his people while doing what he can to prop up the economy; of sincerity because he doesn’t try to hide the bitter truth; and lastly of a father figure who will not put up with too much nonsense. There has been a bit of exaggeration over the issue of the European Central Bank’s bond buyback program, but all in all, Mitsotakis has been showing all the qualities of a good leader in these extremely frightening times.