Dora Bakoyannis: Democratic Alliance will emerge as the driving force of reform

Self-destruction should not be a form of protest, says Democratic Alliance leader Dora Bakoyannis, who appears confident that her party will emerge as the driving force of reform opposite an ?unrepentant? PASOK and New Democracy as well as the ?seven parties of doom.? Following the elections the country needs a government, even under ND chief Antonis Samaras, says Bakoyannis, who does not exclude the idea of participating in a coalition provided that structural changes are actively pursued.

What if I asked you to predict the result of May 6?

There is little doubt that the informal alliance of [the smaller] left- and right-wing parties which say and promise mad things will have a major presence. There is palpable anger and, as you know, anger is often blind. The two former major parties will shrink. I don?t know to what extent. No matter what happens, however, one thing is certain, and I say this without a trace of arrogance: The new Parliament must, no matter what, have a strong Democratic Alliance presence. It is the driving force against the two unrepentant parties, PASOK and New Democracy, a bulwark of common sense with a pro-Europe and progressive stance, and against the seven parties of doom which are inviting us to commit suicide as a means of protest.

Do you think the two major parties will manage to form a joint government?

I?m not sure how strong they will be. In any case, it?s best for liberal, pro-reform powers, whether in PASOK, New Democracy or other parties and groups smaller than Democratic Alliance to rally with our party at this crucial point in time. This is what reformative common sense dictates, but allow me to say that this is what the numbers indicate as well.

Would your party participate in a coalition government?

We?re not shirking our responsibilities. We will participate. But only based on detailed policy regarding the structural changes needed in the country and its political system, the abolition of disincentives and the economy?s rebooting, the eradication of unemployment and the protection of citizens hard hit by the crisis.

While the two major parties are being put to the test, Democratic Alliance has been keeping a low profile.

Right from the start Democratic Alliance has been against populism, which one way or another is a prevailing factor in Greek society. We stirred things up in Parliament. Some of our policies were adopted and played a key role in Greece?s survival. We presented the ?Greece 2020? program with Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. All of this is appreciated by sensible Greeks.

On the subject of the economy. What would you say are the top three priorities for the day after the elections?

It?s crystal-clear: the privatization of all public utility companies [DEKOs] whose criteria, similarly to Cosco in Piraeus, will be how much of an immediate impact they will have on the economy; the state paying back the 7 billion euros it owes to individuals and companies; attracting new investment through the ?Greece 2020? program in view of creating jobs for the unemployed; and the immediate introduction of an across-the-board 20 percent tax rate.

I suspect these measures will not suffice, given that another 11-billion-euro cut in public spending must be finalized by June.

In addition to the three aforementioned sections, which are of prime importance, is the introduction of the streamlined state, which will lead to a restriction in the number of civil servants — not just throwing out figures like half a million layoffs. Besides privatizations, emphasis must also be given to the introduction of outsourcing when it comes to a number of public commodities. At the same time we must pay attention to two sectors where Greece has long enjoyed a position of power — shipping and tourism. According to tourist industry experts, given the right strategy, 30 million visitors — like in Turkey — is a figure which is absolutely attainable. And, above all, there must be no further reductions in salaries and pensions.

You are not excluding layoffs in the public sector. Based on what criteria?

We are clearly in favor of reducing the public sector. I already mentioned privatizations and outsourcing as ways of reducing the number of public servants. We also suggest freezing new hirings and establishing thorough evaluations of civil servants in view of removing those charged with corruption or found to have been consistently underperforming.