Much ado about nothing

Every resident of the Maximos Mansion displays the same reaction to pressure. When they read a newspaper or hear someone arguing that they need to change they way they?re running their governments, they go crazy and dig in their heels. Some close advisers to the prime minister may even warn others not to push him too far if they want to see anything done, while at the same time, behind closed doors, they probably tell their premier that every criticism of his policies and manner of governance or suggestion for change is the product of vested or entangled interests. It is, after all, a tried-and-tested strategy.

It is shame, though, that George Papandreou does not dig his heels in as much as others have done when it comes to handling his ministers. Imagine how much better things would be if he occasionally scolded one or sent those who undermine his decisions home. Unfortunately, he allows capable ministers (like Giorgos Floridis) to stay on the shelf while promoting others who have proved themselves useless.

Papandreou, according to a foreign diplomat who follows developments in Greece closely, governs as though he were 10 points behind the opposition in opinion polls. And you know what? One day he will find himself in exactly that spot and he will have no chance to crawl out of the political black hole because he will be too weak politically.

It?s amazing to see what?s happening in the country. This huge fuss has been kicked up about the circumvention of collective labor agreements in favor of in-house contracts between businesses and their employees. Papandreou has been getting all the flack over this issue and then goes on to do nothing about sorting it out. He looks like a bystander at a performance in which he shoulders all of the political cost of reforms, pretends to be taking all the measures necessary to please the troika and in the meantime, he still does not seem to know whether these reforms will actually work. The liberalization of closed professions and in-house contracts make sense only if they are put into practice and tested to see whether they will lead to growth. If all the reforms are either amended to half of what they?re supposed to be when they are voted through Parliament or deconstructed completely when it comes to their implementation, they simply have no point, and then we have a situation of much ado about nothing.

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