Feeding the wave of Euroskepticism

All manner of commentators are lamenting the cacophony in the government as some of the newly appointed ministers are completely out of sync with the direction of the government prior to the May 25 elections.

It seems that the message from the polls, which prompted the hasty reshuffle, was that the policy being pursued was no longer acceptable to the electorate. The loss of 11 percentage points of support for the coalition of New Democracy and PASOK compared to the elections of June 2012 is not something with which a government leader can reconcile himself. The objective, therefore, became to placate public opinion, even though this is a passive, knee-jerk strategy that is bound to fail – foremost because it pushes the coalition government’s policy into opposition territory.

If there is one thing that has defined the two years this government has been in power it is the fact that instead of negotiating convincingly with the country’s creditors in order to make them understand that certain measures are nothing but counterproductive, it put every single reform to a vote through Parliament in a rush to secure the next tranche of funding. At the same time, however, it used special decrees and amendments to overturn decisions made previously or simply failed to implement the commitments it had undertaken. Basically it acted both like a pro-memorandum government and an anti-memorandum one, all at the same time. This tendency has strengthened some of SYRIZA’s arguments and prompted the government to take certain “corrective” measures, such as emergency relief for the needier members of society.

Of course, a ruling party can by no means compete with an opposition party when it comes to pre-election promises. And from the moment that the voting public realizes that a government has the power to meet the demands of certain social groups, support for the opposition which pledges more things to more groups is bound to grow. Voters will always pick the genuine product, rather than the fake.

A large chunk of conservative voters have abandoned ND in favor of the far-right Golden Dawn or smaller political parties. Meanwhile, former PASOK supporters have for the most part been absorbed by SYRIZA.

Those who backed the coalition did so mainly due to fear of the unknown. Some are indeed convinced that the Greek program is moving in the right direction and they are concerned about the occasional outbursts against the austerity policies coming from inside ND and PASOK.

As a result, Greece is suffering from division and irrational alliances that are feeding Euroskepticism.