Guts and composure

Guts and composure

I often wonder if this country is governable. But I imagine that there comes a time when whoever rules it asks the same question, without being sure of the answer. 

I imagine, for example, chairing a meeting on sports or university violence, having decided that “something must finally change.” And then listening to experts, officials, teachers, lawyers etc explaining why “nothing can be done.” Of course, they do not say it like that because they are technocrats. But it is the moment when a prime minister encounters Greek reality and has to make his decisions.

There are many prime ministers who arrive at a crossroads, some early in their term, others after they have had some experience. They realize that what they consider self-evident and necessary is in fact a Sisyphean task, without allies, without a state that can carry it out, without great chances of success. Some premiers are confused and turn to inactivity, blaming whoever they find.

Some others set four or five goals and say, “If I manage to achieve even half of these, I will be very happy.” Some fall into the trap of convincing themselves that “we have to win the next election and then we will do everything with a fresh popular mandate.”

For those of us who are looking from outside, criticism is easy – and that’s our job after all. The issue, however, is how we break the shackles of past decades, how we can move forward. Those who dream, if they dream, of governments made of the best people or technocrats live in their own world. They never worked. What is needed is regularity, perseverance, clashing with interests, appointing people who are committed to their work in a meritocratic way, and goal-setting.

Greece was obviously not governable when Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first governor of Greece, arrived in Nafplio, and it remains a marginally governable country. But it has grown, it has become stronger, and has taken incredible steps since then.

Inaction is not the answer. Postponement is not a solution. There are no magical and easy victories. What is needed is guts and composure.