There’s money, still

The decision reached by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his deputy, Evangelos Venizelos, to seek a vote of confidence in Parliament on October 6, is a final attempt to restore order in the seriously disturbed ranks of the two parties comprising the coalition government’s slim majority.

The operation will likely succeed. The members of conservative New Democracy’s and socialist PASOK’s parliamentary groups do not wish to be charged with overturning the government – they will obey whether they like it or not – but the gap between the majority’s deputies and their electoral base will remain.

The tone of the three-day parliamentary debate will be nothing short of dramatic. The threat of main opposition SYRIZA rising to power will be the central motif. Majority speakers will attempt to create a positive climate, while SYRIZA, along with the other opposition parties, will overdramatize and lament the government’s management.

It will be an appalling spectacle, given that parliamentary debate has sunk to pathetic levels. Nevertheless, public opinion has become addicted to this unacceptable, highly divisive confrontation, which has led to the gradual depreciation of the country’s representative system.

What is absurd and a cause of concern, however, is that despite the fierce political clash among the parties in the House, there is an unspoken yet visible convergence between the ND-PASOK coalition government and leftist SYRIZA.

More precisely, following five years of vast suffering, social disruption, middle-class contrition and a dramatic rise in unemployment, we’re back where we started – October 2009 – just before the ill-fated election in which George Papandreou attained a major victory against New Democracy through the “There is money” mantra. Without adopting it, one can understand SYRIZA’s tactic of stimulating public opinion by essentially repeating the motto: During his speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair, leftist leader Alexis Tsipras promised the return of bonuses to low-income pensioners as well as basic salaries reaching pre-memorandum levels.

The opposition’s demagogic antics are closely followed by those of the government. Last Sunday Maximos Mansion aides passed on to the press a series of promises, despite the fact that all measures need troika approval. This may have caused friction between the minister of finance and the premier’s closest aide but this is not the issue here.

The point is that we have a government which has declared a long-term, bound-to-fail guerrilla war on the troika and instead of defending any positive aspects of its policies, is competing with the opposition in terms of benefits.

No one seems to be thinking of what happened to Papandreou and his infamous mantra.

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