George Papandreou is left with little room for maneuver and Greece is going downhill. What we really need is a political reboot. But first, we need consensus, a consensus based on a social contract regarding the basic objectives.
That said, the premier cannot expect to achieve consensus without first making some concessions of his own. That will take a great deal of political courage and a significant degree of liberation from the old PASOK mentality that is deeply rooted in his DNA.
Papandreou, for example, cannot ask other parties to cooperate before first admitting to his own mistakes as opposition leader — like his refusal to back education reforms and the overhaul of public utilities.
If he doesn?t do that, it can only mean one of two things: A, he has not realized the degree of damage caused by his past opposition tactics, or B, his political egoism prevents him from rising to the challenge.
Moreover, before he can ask voters or conservative leader Antonis Samaras to agree, the prime minister must also explain himself regarding that misleading ?There?s enough money? comment he made before the last general elections.
But there is more. If Papandreou is really interested in achieving consensus, he must shed his populist attacks on New Democracy and adopt some of the economic proposals put forward by Samaras, Giorgos Karatzaferis or Dora Bakoyannis. This is the only way he can prove that he is interested in saving the country, not himself. The PASOK chief must prove he does not see consensus as a cheap PR stunt.
At the end of the day, before Papandreou can ask for consensus from the parties of the opposition, he must first win over his own folk. Because there is no point in cooperating with Samaras if you are snubbed by half of your own government.
The country stands at a crucial crossroads. People are angry at the politicians and the political-media alliances. Those who think that they can fool the citizens or simply ride the wave of frustration are making a huge mistake.
Papandreou is a persistent politician but very bad when it comes to management or imposing his will on the old PASOK. His only hope to avoid going down as a disappointing footnote in history is to reboot himself: He must overcome his own shortcomings and shape a government that will rise above in-party antagonisms. Only time will tell if he?s up to it.