A question of timing

The average citizen doesn’t need to think too hard to realize that the «social policy» measures announced by the prime minister a few days ago are part of a broader pre-election plan. The timing – which is before elections, whether they take place during the course of this year or at the beginning of 2004 – the reasoning, and even the style of these announcements do not leave the narrowest margin of doubt that this is the case. Indeed, both PASOK and New Democracy officials acknowledge, in their private conversations, that the governing party’s measures and its display of concern for lower-income social groups was decided many months ago. The speculation that existed at the time focused on the timing of the announcement, that is, whether it should be near the date of elections or much sooner so that citizens would have time to reap the positive effects of the measures and to reciprocate accordingly at the polls. The fact that, politically speaking, these measures are pre-electoral in character does not diminish the value that they may hold for the social classes whom they will benefit and to whom they have been promised. As a result, the persistent efforts of the opposition to expose the government’s real motives in providing such benefits at such a time have very little effect on those who are finally seeing their economic situation improve.