Greece has now officially entered the pre-election period, set to culminate with the snap polls on September 20. The first public opinion polls published on Friday show a small gap between the country’s two biggest parties, ruling leftist SYRIZA and conservative New Democracy, as well as a high number of undecided voters. A good majority of 68 percent, meanwhile, said that it wants Greece to remain a member of the eurozone and not return to a national currency.
Contradictory as it may sound, these elections – with a high percentage (over 25 percent) of voters still on the fence about which way they will vote – represent a historic opportunity for the country – possibly its last – to implement change by introducing reforms that have so far been the subject mainly of television debates and the cost of whose implementation no one has been willing to take on. This time voters don’t need to send a message to anyone; there is no longer any need for people to go and cast their ballot in a blind rage, as an act of rejection, frustration or punishment. On September 20, we will be deciding what kind of country we want and who can fulfill its real rather than impossible needs.
In these elections, each side (voters and candidates) are up against real problems only, not promises. Both sides also have a duty to reflect on what is the most reasonable course of action rather than the desired one, to think about the interest of the whole than just themselves. Which party has the officials, the know-how, the potential and the determination to implement the measures and reforms outlined in the new bailout deal? It is more than clear that the memorandum is here; it hasn’t been torn up, chopped down, transformed or made to disappear. Greece’s public sector desperately needs to be rationalized, tax evasion needs to be brought under control, entrepreneurship needs to be boosted and investments need to be supported so that they can grow and multiply, bringing new jobs in the process.
As far as the division between the old and the new political systems is concerned, the crisis has been ruthless to those who claimed to be unblemished. The last eight months have been very revealing and have challenged intentions and perceptions. More importantly, these eight months have dispelled delusions that first appeared as hope. Political maneuvering is not the same as governing, in the same way that obfuscation does not constitute bargaining and ignorance is not opposition to pressure from creditors.
In these elections, the parties are entering the fray tired and denuded, and the voters will walk into the ballot box knowing that there is no way to turn the clock back six years. The only thing the next day will bring is more hard work and more sacrifices for all. It is up to us to add hope to that mix.