The danger and the opportunity

The danger and the opportunity

There is something very paradoxical happening at the moment. There is no opposition to the government. It is something that has not happened in our post-war history. Even when late conservative premier Konstantinos Karamanlis was powerful and dominant there was some rival power, if not as an immediate alternative, as a prospect on the horizon. Now there is absolutely nothing. The main opposition is going through a period of misery and prolonged introversion that will not end easily with the election of a new leader. The absence of Alexis Tsipras revealed the structural and spectacular weaknesses of SYRIZA. Socialist PASOK is also far from becoming a party that claims power.

Consider the debates in Parliament. Who or what exactly will you be looking forward to hearing from in a big debate?

You might say that it is a sign of the times. Bigger countries with long political traditions behind them are experiencing the exact same lack of strong political figures and alternative solutions. But the absence of a political opposition is not a good thing. It is needed by society, the country and – of course – the government. Rivalry always does good, it raises the level, it acts as an antidote to the traditional problems created by any government. Citizens want to feel like they can turn to someone else when they’re angry, frustrated, or want to try something different. Anger multiplies when you feel you have no alternative. And most importantly: It becomes anti-systemic rage because it reinforces the belief that the “system” does not offer solutions.

The country faces significant challenges. A part of society is under financial pressure as everything becomes more expensive or even unattainable, like a house. There will be mistakes and failures, and this is perfectly natural. The issue is where people’s fatigue and reaction will be channeled.

The prime minister has cleverly covered the political center and the space on the right of the conservaives. The opposition is fragmented. The far-right space that seems to have voters waiting has not found a natural leader who can act as a magnet.

However, the absence of an opposition has its – ephemeral – positives. It lends itself to bold reforms. With no apparent political threat and no difficult challenges for the next four years, this government has a unique opportunity to “break some eggs.” 

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