There is no need to rehash the chaos of last week over the 50 billion euros Greece was expected to raise from the ?commercial use? of state assets, nor, of course, to dwell on Prime Minister George Papandreou?s commitment that state-owned land will never be sold to foreigners, or Greeks.
It was such a hammed-up performance from PASOK?s team of reformists that it had everyone in Greece, the IMF, the European Union, international markets and pundits across Europe in hysterics. Mostly, however, it embarrassed those who, in good faith, supported the government and now feel exposed.
Basically, the entire debate over the sale of state assets was a reminder that the memorandum signed between Athens and its creditors is not yielding the expected results. The troika and Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou were winging it before and are now trying to pull rabbits out of hats.
The average person knows that when a business or a family has borrowed beyond its ability to pay the money back, it will need to sell up a part of its assets. But, because in this case the assets belong to the state, their ?commercial use? needs to be approved by the people, rather than by political parties.
Now, the old PASOK – which is not at all missed by this columnist – would have cultivated the idea in the public mind that the ?dommercial use? of public assets would bring relief to the working masses and pensioners as their incomes would not have to be slashed further and the enterprise would be seen as people-friendly rather than a sell-out. This is how PASOK did it for decades under Andreas Papandreou and also under Costas Simitis, and not a single European-level meeting went by in which they did not ?put up a fight? for the national interest.
Today, PASOK?s reformists, who are tasked with ?rescuing? Greece, who ceded the right to form financial policy to the troika, who accepted the memorandum without question and who keep changing their minds, have shown us that they can?t even manage the political side of things. They are like jelly that moves with every nudge from the troika?s three employees.
They are, of course, faced with the deeds of the New Democracy government of Costas Karamanlis. But, that government of ?country bumpkins? and ?boors? managed, despite the public outcry, to privatize Emporiki Bank, OTE telecoms and Olympic Airways.
Many expected more from PASOK?s ?elite? and even thought they are being proved wrong on a daily basis, they continue to believe in the reformist myth.