OPINION

Scraping together the 180 MPs will not be enough

Even if the coalition government was to scrape together the 180-MP majority it needs to elect a new President in the 300-seat House, skeptics say, what will change really? There is one evident answer to this question and one that still has to come from ruling officials.

At the moment, the Greek economy is growing and signs indicate that the trend will continue into 2015. Several foreign investors are evidently interested in putting their money in the local economy. To be sure, this is by no means some a success that will cut Greece’s unemployment rate by half. But it still marks a notable improvement for an economy that had hit rock bottom. Progress, however, has come to a halt because political risk is high. Everyone is waiting to see whether the government will manage to gather the 180 MPs; if the country will go to early elections; which party will be able to form a government; which SYRIZA faction will have the biggest representation in Parliament and so on. Prolonging political stability for one more year would help improve the investment climate and, most importantly, ward off more damage to market confidence.

That said, we still need to be convinced that if the New Democracy/PASOK power-sharing administration is somehow able to get those 180 votes, something more than the president will change. It all depends on Antonis Samaras, the conservative prime minister. Can he convince voters that he will form a government based on technocrats and politicians who do not belong to his narrow environment? Can he outline a serious, growth-inducing plan and entrust its implementation to a team of efficient officials? Can he remove a handful of embarrassing government officials who are such a major put-off for every center-ground voter that has supported his government?

Furthermore, can the premier come up with a group of worthy officials that have what it takes to deal with the challenges of the times? Can he stop the appointments of failed or expired politicians at key posts of the state apparatus?

The coming days will be a test because society is worn down and angry, PASOK is in crisis and the troika wants to conduct experiments in extreme conditions. However, if the government were to find the support of 180 deputies but still fail to change things, public disappointment will be huge. Voters will interpret the 180 votes as a machination, not as an opportunity.

Put differently, Samaras has nothing to lose by seeing through the rest of his term as if he were not interested in his immediate political future. In fact, his ability to communicate something along these lines could seriously boost his chances of success.