As Greece inches closer to summer, its inhabitants are once again confronted by the third, oft-forgotten, certainty along with death and taxes, seasonal wildfires. Despite the plan presented by the government in May, which included increased patrols, the creation of forest commando units, and even a European firefighting force, the first week of June does not inspire much hope. On Saturday, there were even evacuations in Attica, with thick smoke billowing and covering most of southern Athens. The capital’s inhabitants must be wondering if the country is set for a repeat of the destruction seen last year, especially considering it is still very early into the summer.
The government is, undoubtedly, also concerned with this very question, as Greece has unofficially launched its pre-election period of unspecified length after all party conferences concluded over the last couple of weeks. The heavy political cost paid by SYRIZA for the lethal fire in Mati in 2018 still weighs heavily on the minds of everybody. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his advisors must know that if Greece is wracked by fires for yet another summer, it will undoubtedly have an impact on the ballot results.
New Democracy is not the only one preparing for the elections, with SYRIZA and PASOK also wearing their Sunday best to woo prospective voters. SYRIZA announced Rania Svigkou as new party secretary and the composition of its new Executive Bureau. The goal of Alexis Tsipras seems to be the unification of the party into a concrete and solid body after years of internal squabbling. PASOK is also seeking to capitalize on, and live up to, the swell of enthusiasm and support that accompanied the election of Nikos Androulakis as leader of the party.
As temperatures rise, we shall see how the political leaders deal with the heat.