OPINION

A publicity stunt?

The so-called «Convergence Charter,» a host of measures aimed at bringing Greeks closer to their EU peers which the prime minister is due to present today, comes with great expectations. The government has said that the charter will lay out its social and economic goals and the way these are to be achieved, while at the same time setting interim, measurable goals. In the next few hours we will know the extent to which the document will live up to all its ballyhooed expectations, as well as degree to which substance has been sacrificed on the altar of the parties’ election campaigns. Unfortunately, both the colorless government reshuffle in the summer and the campaign-driven handouts announced last week have deflated expectations that the charter will be free of political expediency. Barring these reservations, the charter’s objective – whatever embellishments it may contain – should spark a serious and constructive debate, social and political. Three years after PASOK renewed its mandate on the mantra of «real convergence,» the chasm between Greece and the other EU states has widened. Worse still, the government has failed to take the requisite structural measures that our European partners – which are already more advanced than we are – have already begun to implement. Government paralysis has affected all crucial sectors, from production and competitiveness to wealth distribution and the improvement of the public health and education systems. In this light, the charter must not become the subject of campaign slogans in the runup to the elections. Rather, it must be the subject of serious debate with clear-cut arguments over the optimal set of goals and priorities. Ranking these priorities is critical, as convergence cannot be implemented all at once. It requires sacrifices and painstaking efforts that have to be explained and justified to the electorate. This is of vital importance for one more reason. Convergence, the government says, is a long-term goal, which means that it can only be fulfilled on the basis of a consistent program. This means that the core of the program must enjoy the consensus of the main political parties and the country’s main productive forces. A consensus can only come through an exchange of meaningful arguments and not a partisan trading of accusations meant for TV consumption.