Keeping their options open amid the ruins

The streets of the capital are full of life, the warm summer evenings are luring people out of their homes, and even money that had been stuffed into mattresses is flowing back into the banks.

The Greeks had been holding their breath for some weeks as the international spotlight shone brightly on them, bringing them face to face with tough dilemmas.

Eventually, the election result on June 17 resulted in a coalition government whose goals are to ensure Greece?s membership in the eurozone and ease the financial crisis by pushing for a modification of the EU/IMF memorandum.

However, the manner in which Greece?s new government has been formed and the conditions involved suggest an incompatibility between the political class and the electorate.

The partners in the power-sharing government do not seem to share any hope, conviction or sense of emergency regarding the popular demand for groundbreaking steps and measures. Antonis Samaras, the conservative leader who was sworn in as prime minister this week, did not pick personalities that rise above party politics; he did not pick personalities that can convince and inspire those sections of society that did not vote for New Democracy in June 17.

In fact the only nonpartisan figures are the two ministers who served in the interim administration. They are now in different posts.

Meanwhile, PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left?s Fotis Kouvelis did everything they could to avoid offering any political capital to the ND-led administration. They are also not participating. They have instead chosen to stay in the shadows, to watch their backs and guide their troops from a safe distance. Standing amid the ruins, Venizelos and Kouvelis are doing all they can to keep their options open.

Needless to say, all this hesitation, foot-dragging and egotism is sending the wrong message to the people. The nation is faced with a grim reality, with a disaster in the making, a historic challenge. What it needs is a sign of determination, swift action, consensus and super effort.

Sure, we have to give the government some more time until it has outlined its program and policy action. We also have to wait to see how much time and what concessions our foreign lenders are willing to give — if they give any at all. We cannot afford anything more. Time is running out fast.

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