OPINION

Turning his back on reality

Even when faced with economic or social problems, Prime Minister Costas Simitis typically refuses to shoulder any of the direct or indirect responsibilities of government. At his most self-critical moments, the premier may acknowledge that though much has been achieved there are still some things to be done. Greece is currently experiencing what politicians, economic experts and serious businessmen had predicted for Greece in the post-EMU era if the government failed – as it did – to hammer out a comprehensive political program to help amortize the repercussions of the New Economy. As a result, Greece is currently beset by low productivity, low competitiveness, bankrupt companies, unemployment, inflation, growing public debt and a balance of payments deficit. In view of the burgeoning crisis and the pressure on middle-class incomes, the government should be pushing ahead with big structural reforms and a plan for national growth. And yet, Simitis, who sees himself as spearheading a reformist political movement, chooses to turn a blind eye to the economic malaise, attributing the current rebuke against the government to «politically expedient objectives» and to business interests that aim to undermine him and his administration. Many Socialist officials feel embarrassed in the face of Simitis’s attempts to downplay the adverse public image of PASOK. Most strikingly, the premier denies the existence of any serious crisis and, moreover, disapproves of self-criticism within the ruling party. If this is not the time for introspection within PASOK, then when would be? Simitis’s insistence on turning his back on reality can prompt little else. The worsening of the crisis appears unavoidable.