The challenges ahead

Geece has finally got itself a democratically elected prime minister in the chief of New Democracy, Antonis Samaras. His swearing-in comes with hope that he will be successful in his efforts to extract Greece from the crisis, within the context of a European Union that is itself in a dangerous phase.

Today we expect to see the new government sworn in, and a strange one it will be too, as conservative ND?s partners — socialist PASOK and Democratic Left — will not be participating with leading politicians from their ranks. This decision — if it remains the case — suggests that the two parties are giving the government a vote of confidence while at the same time maintaining their opposition roles.

It is clear that PASOK and Democratic Left are being defined by others rather than themselves, and specifically by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), which is seen as threatening to wipe both parties off the Greek political map. It makes sense to a point that Democratic Left connects its participation in the government to the changes that will be achieved in regard to Greece?s bailout agreement, which it voted against. The stance of PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos, however, is incomprehensible, given that the economic policies that will be pursued by the government are a PASOK creation.

It is also obvious that if the new government comprises only ND cadres, they will become key targets of criticism.

Prior to the May 6 elections, Samaras had said that there was a conflict of interest in a politician serving simultaneously as both a minister and a deputy. If he were to put his words into action, at least in the key ministries, he would be taking a significant step forward, because ministries are the main hotbeds of corruption, clientelism and vested interests.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s decision to appoint National Bank of Greece Governor Vassilis Rapanos as finance minister is very interesting.

On the one hand it can be expected that the party leaders in the coalition will formulate policy on the basis of the past. What they should not forget though, is that this parliament is defined by extremes. This means that the percentage of power gained by the parties that form the opposition — from the left and the right — will correspond to the percentage of failure of the new government. Therefore, the only thing that can ensure the survival of the political pact is how successful the government is. A small-minded approach to the problem will result in a victory for SYRIZA in the next elections.

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