OPINION

Wooing the voters

As the date approaches for Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s publicity stunt at the annual International Trade Fair (TIF) in Thessaloniki, the fog is dissipating. The ruling party’s primary concern is not the sorry state of the national economy but rather how far this ailing economy will permit handouts to serve PASOK’s electoral needs. The Socialist administration is trying to play down the size of fiscal problems and convince low-income groups that the government can still amass funds for a more welfare-oriented policy. So deep is the government’s electoral angst that the administration is willing to resort to any trick that could con the public into believing that the non-existent money will be found and that the less well-off section of society will receive a sizable «social package» – all this without doing damage to the achievements of the national economy. Ordinary citizens (so called) are told that unlike other eurozone countries, Greece is in a position to empower the welfare state without giving up its Stability Pact obligations – what is more, at a time when Greece’s productive base remains feeble. These are the acrobatics that the premier will engage in in a few days’ time. He, of course, is well aware of the true state of the economy but is determined to do everything in his power to win the next electoral wager – even to the point of bamboozling the people who have been disillusioned by the poor performance of his administration ever since the country joined the eurozone. PASOK’s power-hungry officials have made up their minds on the next few steps. Questions remain over New Democracy’s response. A first taste will be Costas Karamanlis’s address on Greece’s major problems at the trade fair. ND’s political demeanor from now on will show whether the average citizen will have reason to hail a conservative victory as a fresh, productive start for the country.