If there is one thing that has emerged from public opinion polls conducted over the past couple of months, it?s that it is practically impossible for a single party to emerge from the elections with a clear majority. Greece?s two-party system, which has seen the steady interchange of power between New Democracy and PASOK, appears to have come to an end.
This fact, however, appears not have eluded the two main parties, who are seeking a majority by putting forth arguments and resorting to rhetoric that belong in the 1980s. A clearer display of immaturity is hard to imagine. The average citizen, who continues to think sensibly in an environment of senselessness, wonders how ND and PASOK could ever coexist in a unity government.
There is no doubt that the differences between the two parties have always been there and that they remain fundamental. The responsibility for the dire state of the economy does not lie equally on both their shoulders, however, as the areas of the economy and the state that need to be deconstructed — with great effort and with terrible consequences for people?s incomes — were created first and foremost through the imprudent policies of successive PASOK governments.
Nevertheless, from the moment that ND chief Antonis Samaras accepted the second memorandum, which had been negotiated by the government of Lucas Papademos and then-Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, undermining a possible collaboration between the conservatives and socialist PASOK aimed at implementing the austerity program — which both party leaders committed to — is inconsistent, to say the least.
Samaras has every right, and the obligation, to fight for as big a percentage of the vote as possible. At the same time, he is in no way obliged to make peace with PASOK, which for the average conservative was and remains a bane. It is not, however, wise for this confrontation to be allowed to render a post-election collaboration impossible. It is not unlikely that Samaras is exploring the possibility of working with parties that have emerged from ND — such as those of Dora Bakoyannis, Panos Kammenos or Giorgos Karatzaferis — but even so, a head-on confrontation with PASOK is unnecessary.
The people have enough to worry about with the fallout of the crisis. There is no call for more political tension, from whichever party hopes to be represented in the country?s next Parliament. As everything collapses around us, the least we would expect is for the tone of the election campaign to change.