OPINION

A solid opposition

a-solid-opposition

There are those who believe that New Democracy, PASOK and Potami should vote against legislation enforcing the third bailout’s reforms, even though they approved the country’s new deal with the creditors in the first place. It is definitely a tough choice to make. Someone needs to represent the middle classes and the private sector which again face excruciating taxes. If the pro-European opposition parties don’t do this, other parties will step in and largely benefit from the situation.

This is one side of the story. The country’s credibility has now reached its lowest point. If the parties which backed all previous bailouts vote against crucial legislation, the country will come across as unreliable, if not insane. Truth be told, Greece’s lenders have also shown their own unreliable and insane behavior. They insisted on public sector layoffs, fully aware of the fact that the measure came at a tremendous political cost to Antonis Samaras’s governments. They did not listen to the arguments put across by those who insisted that an evaluation and the public sector’s restructuring should have come first. Now they are playing dumb as if they don’t even care about the issue. That is not sensible, let alone reliable, behavior.

What lies ahead? The opposition will have to decide whether or not to vote against the legislation in question. It is quite possible that even if New Democracy’s position is for its MPs to vote in favor of the new laws, many deputies will choose to go against the official stance, leading the political system to even greater fragmentation.

There is a third way, but this requires courage and seriousness. The story of alternative measures has become something of a joke in the bailout years, because those presented by every main opposition party so far were always scribbled down on a piece of paper and were unable to stand the test of technocratic criticism.

New Democracy and other opposition parties are now obliged to work on solid and well-prepared suggestions. Some of them come at a cost. If you wish to lower taxes you must at the same time either lower the cost of the public sector or create a growth shock through impressive measures. So it’s down to well-targeted proposals which will prove unpleasant to certain “clients,” but there is no other way to go. Anyone who votes against the measures without coming up with tangible and measurable alternative proposals will follow the same path of previous opposition parties. This is a sure path to disaster as it will become evident very soon that the entire political system which approved the third bailout to avert a Grexit is back in the anti-bailout camp. This might seem logical on a local level, but not on the international one.