OPINION

After the punishment

The predominant sentiments within Greek society at present are no doubt those of anger and a strong desire to punish ?the system,? as it were.

The most common remarks voiced by people from all walks of life are: ?I don?t like being blackmailed. There?s not really much to lose anymore, so I am not afraid of bankruptcy or of a return to the drachma. In this election, we must teach them a lesson.?

Some people hoped that the Easter break would help ease the tension. They were wrong. The public?s frustration with the two mainstream parties persists. If things do not change over the next couple of weeks, the May 6 parliamentary elections will mark the start of fresh trouble.

This is perhaps one more obstacle that we need to overcome before we can get back on track: We must force the country?s established parties to sort themselves out and not simply stare at the populist scaremongers on the right and left of the political spectrum who want to take us back to the drachma. But this phase of instability may be necessary for a regeneration of the political landscape through the engagement of fresh and responsible individuals.

Greek society has for years now been corroded by populism and by a mentality that places rights above obligations. Over the past couple of years, this mentality was embodied in the public language of the vast majority of politicians and opinion makers who reassured voters that ?a different path is possible.?

An anti-bailout government would be asked to demonstrate in practice where this alternative path lies and, most importantly, what the destination would be for the average citizen. The time of truth will soon be upon us, in June or September, as an anti-bailout government would have to pay for public sector salaries and pensions after having turned its back on partners and lenders.

I would like to expect that our partners will respect the will of the people and give Greece some room for post-election scuffling; but they are unlikely to back down on their demands.

It?s hard to say what the outcome will be. I hope the whole thing leads to political maturity and not to irreparable damage or the geopolitical weakness that would be caused by a return to the drachma.