The government, and the country in general, will need a strong reboot when the pandemic is finally over. Covid-19 is a bit like the bailout agreements: It accelerates political time and eats up precious political capital. This phenomenon is not exclusive to Greece. Were it not for the pandemic, Donald Trump would likely have been re-elected in the United States.
Meanwhile in Germany, the political system is rather shaky. The virus is putting people under enormous psychological and social pressure. At the same time, it is a boon for antisystemic forces which, also with the help of social media, pour oil onto the flames.
The conservative prime minister has ruled out a snap poll. It’s a risky albeit mature decision. Greece is the only country where speculation about the next election starts the day after an election is held. The Hellenic Republic has never been synonymous with predictability. Kyriakos Mitsotakis of course has to navigate the political minefield that is the simple proportional representation system so irresponsibly planted by the leftist opposition leader. The next ballot, should it take place in 2023, will be crucial for the future of Greece.
What will really be needed when the pandemic is over is a good reboot. The government will need a new narrative based on straight talk. This will also have to be marked with a cabinet reshuffle. Mitsotakis was elected on a specific agenda that was suppressed by the Covid-19 outbreak.
Citizens, at least those who have not lost their cool, expect to hear what the government plans to do in the next couple of years; what they can hope for; how their lives, and their children’s, will get better. It’s a tough balance to strike. The situation will require politicians who have the ability to reach out to society and particularly the youth, who, as always, use a language of their own.
It will also call for project managers, Pierrakakis-style politicians who can quickly execute changes in key areas that affect people’s daily lives. In this new environment, the premier will have to choose what battles he is prepared to wage, how many eggs he is willing to break.
The public is dizzy and angry. There will be time to change that. But the government will have to make investments, improve hospitals, schools, universities and public transport, and, yes, avoid shooting itself in the foot. A return to a new normality could be the conservatives’ strongest card in two years from now.
The overwhelming majority of the people are wary of a fresh political adventure. With anger easing, reason will prevail – and, at some point, hope. And that seems to be Mitsotakis’ safest bet.