Reckless driving

Driving carelessly on turns is a dangerous sport – both on the road and in politics. How did this thought come about? It has to do with the crucial upcoming weeks, which might end up putting the government’s cohesion to the test.

It all started in September when the local political chorus started chanting monotonously and repeatedly that “there will be no more measures.” When this is uttered by the prime minister, the deputy prime minister or the minister of finance, they know exactly what they mean. They are aware of the country’s obligations based on measures that have already been approved and the various scenarios that could, even at the very last minute, be accepted by the country’s lenders. What they consider as the “end of the game,” however, is not necessarily known to the average deputy, the average commentator or the average citizen.

MPs take the “no more measures” mantra and the general anti-troika rhetoric a step further in conversations they conduct in cafes and at social events. In other words, they are exposed and commit themselves to positions that are far more extreme than the ones envisioned by those in power, the ones who bear responsibility for the negotiations. That’s how you reach the point when you realize that nothing is going to get past Parliament, not even things which have to do with measures that have already been approved. From a certain point of view, this image reinforces the government’s negotiating power abroad. On another level, however, it has put the administration in the corner, limiting its handling and compromising abilities to a terrible degree. Those in government will have to spend major political capital in order to persuade deputies and public opinion to accept even the most easy-to-digest and sensible compromises in an attempt to bridge the gap with the troika.

We recently experienced the results of taking an abrupt turn: This was the case of conservative New Democracy, for instance, following the formation of the Lucas Papademos government and the second memorandum. New Democracy deputies and followers were unable to follow their leadership’s turn, leading to the schism which strengthened Independent Greeks and Golden Dawn.

In other words, the danger of losing sight of the ball amid exaggeration and aphorisms is very real. There is no doubt that the time has come for Athens to put its foot down in the ongoing negotiations with the troika and demand relaxation and discounts. If, however, the politicians’ confusion leads to an accident – such as the loss of government deputies or a complete rift with the troika – this will no doubt mean that someone took a very abrupt turn.

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