OPINION

What happened to the opposition?

what-happened-to-the-opposition

In the next few years, our country will be required to manage 100 billion euros’ worth of funds (Next Generation EU, EaSI, private funds). These funds, used properly, can transform Greek society. They have the power to change Greece’s productivity model, to push high-technology and sustainable energy sectors, to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and to establish a long-term growth trajectory that will give Greek society new hope.

The government has formulated “Greece 2.0,” a solid plan for the utilization of funds from Next Generation EU – the European Union recovery package to support member-states hit by the Covid-19 pandemic – which has already been approved by the European Commission. Unfortunately, the opposition seems to be absent from this great effort for the future of our country, relying instead on constant deconstructive criticism. This is small-party behavior which fails to bring forward creative ideas for growth. Further, this behavior dooms the entire center-left to the margins, by insisting on reviving worn-out cliches or by focusing on irrelevant issues and points.

This strategy might be expected from SYRIZA, a party determined to divide the country under the anti-European agenda of 2015 – no one really expected anything different. But one does expect more from Movement for Change – better known as KINAL, formerly PASOK, a party that governed Greece for 20 years, transforming its face on many fronts. One would expect a more serious approach from KINAL.

Indicative of KINAL’s struggle to escape this tactic of “total opposition” as followed by SYRIZA, is the party’s negative stance on the labor reform bill. This was a bill that clearly tried to impose rules on the labor market, giving more flexibility to employers while protecting employee rights. Key reforms included the establishment of a digital employee card and the creation of an independent labor inspection authority, both tools aimed at empowering the state in the fight against arbitrary indiscretions.

KINAL also maintained a negative stance on other modernization initiatives undertaken by the government. On education, for example, KINAL was against raising the entry standards for universities and abolishing departments that drew a minimal amount of students, while it argued that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has failed “on all fronts” in combating the Covid-19 pandemic. That is while the rest of the world praises our country’s swift and efficient vaccination processes, which rendered our Covid response better than that of many larger EU countries. In the same spirit, KINAL interpreted the EU’s reluctance to impose grave sanctions on Turkey as a complete failure of the Greek government, even as the rest of the world had praised our strong but calm response in the Aegean Sea, and our attempts to forge diplomatic alliances in the surrounding area.

As a result, it has become clear that KINAL is alienating many of those who identify with the center-left, who are looking for responsible and concrete proposals. This is reflected in the fact that KINAL is stuck at 7% in all polls, unable to attract former voters who moved to SYRIZA and are now politically homeless.

The weirdest thing is that many of the current government’s decisions (on education, the police, the pandemic, foreign affairs) could very well have been decisions made by some of the PASOK governments of the past.