NEWS

‘Yes’ to Democratic Alliance

The entire misery of the Greek economy can be seen in these figures: It’s more expensive to transfer something from Athens to Thessaloniki than from Munich to Athens. You may have noted that Munich to Athens is four times the distance. So why is this? Because Greece is caught in state interventionism and old economic structures. This is why Greece is in such desperate need of liberalism in its most modern form: sustainable liberalism. Prime Minister George Papandreou is pushing through economic reforms of a liberal approach – absolutely necessary, yes. He is doing a good job. Within the European package, Greece has to painfully accept and implement a program of transition from a state-led economy to an open market environment that showcases private initiative and encourages investment. But it is correct to fear that these measures will simply not suffice. Papandreou has enormous tasks to accomplish: He has to convince the Greeks of his reforms, he has to persuade international markets that he is serious and he has to fight his own party. On November 21, a new political force was created: With the founding of Democratic Alliance, the liberal project has started. The new movement can fill in the gap created by the social democratic left and the conservative right wing. Greece, in the current period, is not just affected by the economic crisis. The worst problem is the state’s serious lack of credibility. Greek society is looking for a way out of the vicious cycle of the old system. For many years, the political caste fed a system of waste of public money, corruption and nepotism that contributed significantly to the collapse of the Greek economy. People are demanding a new sustainable vision. This is the new liberal movement’s chance to unify civil society, an achievement for which Eleftherios Venizelos fought but went down in the last decades. Modern sustainable liberalism is a real opportunity for a new orientation of economic progress in the country. What does modern sustainable liberalism mean? First of all, it means the efficient use of resources. We need to stop wasting resources – not only for the sake of economic growth but mainly for our future. Our economic system needs to respect our grandchildren’s lives. Ecological awareness will result in a better future, including economic sustainability. Secondly, modern liberalism is based on constructive dialogue. Outdated but constant political disputes between parties are no longer appropriate. The new movement can contribute to the country’s modernization with new ideas, actions and most importantly, with new faces. A new type of politician is in the process of being created. The state’s credibility also depends on the state’s personnel. Bureaucrats seeking their own advantage are as dangerous to the modern state as is the populist politician. The political personnel needs to canvass and convince voters, listen to them and propose real actions instead of buzzwords. For Greece, this indicates a whole range of issues to be urgently dealt with: rethinking Greece’s economic foundations, concentrating on education, providing better living conditions. For example, why not base the Greek economy on health? Surprising, maybe. But very innovative: Greece has the perfect climate, environment and a healthy diet – the country could become a major destination for health tourism. Health, both physical and mental, if placed at the center of political activity, not only creates jobs but also improves individual well-being. Another area in which to base growth is information technology. There is space for creating IT applications in many fields, as there are in security, education, health, and culture. Greece should get ready to ascend to the «Olympia» of European information technology. To achieve a real turnaround in Greek economy and lifestyle, the new party must focus on education. Greek children will need to become the best-prepared children in the world. There is a rich history to draw lessons from, to get the foundation for innovation and development. And it doesn’t end with school: Study programs aiming at healthy lifestyles or innovative thinking would ensure people’s participation in society and enable a free and self-determined life. Greece has all the preconditions for becoming a prosperous country people want to remain in: Stop the brain drain. An enormous target of the new political party will be to encourage young people, provide opportunities, trust in their competencies and will to improve. Every young talent leaving the country equals a lost opportunity. The political system of the future is defined by new coordinates: sustainable liberal values leaning on the civil foundations of the rule of law are at its center. And, apart from the different political parties, movements and forces, Greeks could again unite behind an idea, pushing the Greek state forward. The Greeks – both local and abroad – love Greece. However, they are troubled by the Greek state. Greeks want a European, sustainable and liberal Greece that works. A Greece to highlight their skills and work. A Greece providing opportunities. And Greeks are ready to work hard to make these dreams come true. This should guide the new party’s agenda. (1) Jorgo Chatzimarkakis is a member of the European Parliament with the Free Democratic Party of Germany.