The ‘dodgy’ charter
Sensationalism and populism seem to have set the tone for the unfolding election campaign. These were to be seen in the first government initiatives, the handouts and the so-called «Convergence Charter» – a document that seeks to blanket over the problems and challenges that lurk for the economy in the wake of the 2004 Olympics. The government has shirked the challenges and tried to embellish the facts: There has been no mention of the widening fiscal deficit, the structural shortcomings, the new, more competitive environment for homemade products. Moreover, the issue of convergence with our European partners cannot be discussed in terms of vote-grabbing gambits aimed at bamboozling the public. This is a fundamental issue, even more crucial than Greece’s eurozone entry, for it will determine the future of the country and its place in a bigger, more competitive Europe. Our degree of convergence will determine Greece’s regional role, its leverage and broader influence. It is a major mistake to present the charter as a list of pre-election commitments which are, in fact, grounded in largely arbitrary assumptions and without any intention of structural reform. The government and the opposition must engage in a substantial discussion of the required funds, the necessary savings, the flaws of public administration, the imperfections of the economic system which undermines free competition, the training of coming generations and the enhancement of professionalism and productivity – in short, about everything needed to bring us closer to the EU average. Any fruitful debate must include labor market issues, social security, economic liberalization and the problems that put the brakes on Greece’s productive forces. Only a discussion that gets to the meat of the issues and produces daring solutions will offer any genuine strategy for the future.