OPINION

The power of inertia

Where is that certain something that can help give Greeks a ray of hope? Certainly not in Parliament or within the ranks of the country?s political parties and its political system. The government is busy wrangling with the troika and the negotiations have sapped all of its energy and courage. Meanwhile, there is just a handful of officials who can stand the pressure and comprehend the magnitude of what is at stake. At the same time, our foreign partners wonder at the power of Greece?s inertia, at how after all the country has gone through, its politicians and administration are behaving as though it were business as usual. They see major ministries being run without the assistance of technocrats and staffed with political cronies and inept employees. What little desire there was for reform dried up long ago and has been replaced with half-measures.

The same attitude governs the sharing of the pie, where a new generation of wheeler-dealers with vested interests don?t even bother to veil their demands in diplomatic terms. The magnitude of the war between the pie-grabbers is matched by its sordidness. Its viciousness, though, is a threat to the political system, as there are many different players with no common ground who are prepared to fight dirty. It takes some skill to read between the lines, to see which small or big interest group is behind a specific attack against a policy or a reform.

In short, there is a lot of rot, and the question is whether the government has the drive, the ability and the people to get the job done once the next package of cutbacks and reforms is passed through Parliament and ready for implementation. I am not sure that it does, but I also can?t see anyone else up to the task either.

SYRIZA is a champion not just of the status quo but of the status quo of yesterday. It?s unpreparedness to govern is so apparent that it makes one wonder how a country can work when it has no alternative government. Its shallow, pseudo-revolutionary rhetoric betrays the absence of workable proposals, experienced officials and potential to govern.

So Greece is caught between two different forms of inertia and is waiting to see whether there will be a politician ready to burn the bridges with the past, to sever the ties with unions, to clamp down on clientelism, to clean the state of corruption, to demand more of the political system and to help the country turn over a new leaf.