The Socialist government appears disorganized and insecure; and if the premier does not fix this, it will also prove short-lived. We are not concerned about the jobs of PASOK officials, but about the fact that the country is in a critical phase at a time when the European Union is also faced with some crucial decisions. Greece risks entering a period of political uncertainty without a strong hand on the helm.
The PASOK administration is showing signs of disintegration and slow reflexes. The last Cabinet reshuffle ostensibly created an inner circle of advisers led by Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis. For about 20 days, senior ministers held meetings that occasionally included the prime minister. They would discuss key issues and the way they would be handled. At some point, and without a clear reason, the meetings stopped. Was it because of a feud between Ragousis and Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou? Was it that no one knows where the power really lies in the current administration? Or was it yet another passing phase of Papandreou-style management?
Last Friday the government shot itself in the foot. Despite the political and media controversy caused by comments made by troika officials about the country having to sell off 50-billion-euros worth of assets, no one among the administration?s officials appeared to take notice and no one took care to inform the prime minister until late in the night. No one held a meeting to discuss what such a 50-billion-euro program would mean, how it can be explained to the people and what impact it would have.
Was it the fault of Papaconstantinou, who did not preempt the troika? Or was it the fault of Ragousis who is in charge of the trusted group of advisers? Or was it the fault of Papandreou who refuses to function in a predictable, organized fashion?
Whoever is to blame, the damage is done. The forces of populism have the upper hand in the government and the news bulletins. The government is making one concession after another, as if this is going to solve the problem. But this only makes matters worse, because it is feeding the beast of populism. No one envies Papandreou?s position. He looks to his right and all he sees is the spectre of bankruptcy. He looks to his left only to see two-thirds of his ministers challenging the EU-IMF memorandum. A couple more missteps and he will fall off the cliff because of his own mistakes. The problem is that he will not go down alone.