OPINION

No funds, no prospects

The recent wave of strikes is not the Socialist government’s biggest headache. Its main problem is a lack of funds to satisfy workers’ demands, which is its only justification for refusing to discuss those demands with the strikers. The government is not in a position to claim that workers’ fortunes will improve in the future, because it has not hammered out any specific development plan, or even a general policy that will bolster the country’s productive base and guarantee a more equitable distribution of wealth. Instead, the economy, long touted as the government’s most important card, remains in the doldrums. Greece is beset by deficits, debt, price hikes, public disillusionment, and strikes. And there is no sign of light at the end of the tunnel – at least not under the self-styled reformist politicians who are currently in charge of the country. The government of Costas Simitis has set no long-term growth goals, which makes it hard to be optimistic about the prospects for the economy. Furthermore, under the present circumstances it is hard to keep one’s faith in the government’s intentions and capabilities, while there can be no serious talk of social cohesion. Recent statistics confirm that a large segment of society faces hard times, and demonstrate that the living standards of the urban middle class – the main pool of Simitis’s supporters since 1996 – are deteriorating. On top of all this comes a survey by the Transparency International watchdog, according to which Greece is the most corrupt state in the EU and occupies 50th place among 133 countries internationally. The reformists are losing the game, on all fronts. And things are becoming increasingly hard for Greece.