OPINION

United by greed, divided they fall

If we do not put our faith in a better future, the rearguard action being fought by special interest groups and the violent outbursts by those who have nothing to lose will never end. We will only believe in the future when someone shows it to us; so far, we have not seen it. The government, the EU and the IMF have had to focus on the effort to stem the flood of debt, with much failure and some success. This is being done through deprivation, through spending cuts and privatization, through the humiliation of seeing others decide our fate. Today it is clear that the people have to be presented with an overall vision of where we are, what objectives we have and how we plan to achieve them. We know which country we are leaving behind but we have no idea where we are headed. This concerns all of us, whether we work in the private sector or in government, whether we are university professors or taxi drivers. It is natural that fear and anger should be the order of the day.

Now that we have gained a little time from our creditors, and knowing that we have exhausted the last resources of the international community?s patience, we have to come up quickly with a blueprint for the future. To be able to put our faith in something, though, it must be the product of sincere negotiations between people and groups who up to now pursued only their own interests at the expense of the social whole. In other words, those who fight against every change (in the closed professions, in education, and so on) must join forces with those who want reforms. Together they must shoulder the responsibility for radical and functional proposals. The government has the primary responsibility to call such meetings and to impose deadlines so that they lead somewhere soon. If other parties and agencies join the government, so much the better.

Today the country is divided among those who believe in the need for reforms and those who are afraid of losing out in the changes. On the side stand those who have either lost their jobs or are in danger of doing so. Each believes that the others want to impose their will on him. We are acting in accordance with outdated models — those of division and selfishness. Among the many things that we learned from the past few years, though, is that our parties are quite capable of harmonious cooperation when this involves wasting public money. In villages, towns and at the national level, they divided untold billions in state and EU funds and in loans, so that all would be happy and no party would spoil the party. While they were all stuffing themselves and stacking the state?s payrolls with their friends, they overcame their political, ideological and ethical differences. Now that the era of discontent is upon us, they have a duty to cooperate so as to achieve the best possible solutions to our problems.

Along with the daily anxiety over the economy, the country?s greatest problem is the widespread questioning of the political system?s legitimacy. Yet, instead of acknowledging that their behavior led to this, our political parties continue to think only of the portion of the pie that they can win, ignoring the fact that the pie is disappearing. There have been calls for a government of technocrats, or of a ?constitutional assembly? of the country?s finest citizens, which would push aside the current political system. But the only people with the legitimacy to change the country?s course are its elected representatives. The sooner the politicians realize this and shoulder their responsibility, the better for them and the country. The longer they stick with a mentality and tactics from the past, they will draw to themselves the responsibility not only of having brought the country to ruin but also of hindering its recovery.

The same applies to just about every sector of the working population. Will we all continue the battle to maintain failed policies or will we demand solutions? Instead of focusing on when early elections would be most beneficial for each of them, the government and the opposition parties should agree on a process toward the establishment of a national strategy and commit themselves to carrying it out. Only then will the people put their faith in the future and accept the changes that will come.