OPINION

War games on a map

After the handout package, the prime minister has now launched a far more lavish package of promises. Processed though it may be, the so-called «Convergence Charter» amounts to nothing but war games on a map. And while one should not belittle its potential worth over the next four years, its commitments are cost-free. For the time being, they are nothing but words. The premier’s faithful supporters will see the charter as a good reason to vote for him once again. The rest will scoff at it. A first evaluation shows that the charter helped more to improve Socialist party morale than to attract voters. Unlike the associated «social package,» Simitis’s pledges at the Zappeion Mansion failed to cause a stir. Perhaps this is because citizens want to see immediate action. Besides, much of what is included in the charter had been announced by Simitis before the 2000 elections. New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis reminded us of this, in one of the better moments of a colorless opposition thrust. The tactic of immediately reacting to the premier’s moves is correct, but it is not enough. So far, Karamanlis has limited himself to making attacks, leaving the initiative to his political enemies. This, along with the contradictory reactions by conservative cadres to PASOK’s social package, cultivates the impression that New Democracy is not a credible political alternative. It has failed to convince the public that it has a vision for the future of the country, or that it has hammered out realistic solutions to the big problems. Thus it plays into Simitis’s hands. Karamanlis’s coming address in Thessaloniki may change this impression. But despite PASOK’s decline, ND has failed to achieve an indisputable momentum. Although it has consolidated its lead, the party is not evidently marching to power. This may be because when it comes to the final stretch, the Socialists tend to outdo their opponents.