On the morning of July 13, the Greek government signed a third bailout with international creditors, bringing relief and ensuring the country’s place in the eurozone. It was as though we were recovering from some terrible illness that made its appearance at the start of the summer or that we had managed to avoid a fatal collision. A few days later, Parliament adopted the second package of prior action with 230 “yes” votes from its 300 MPs.
This very brief look back at the dramatic summer that just passed helps not just to jog our memories but also to judge developments. There was a moment there when we saw a Parliament that was – albeit grudgingly – working together. Now we are back to the all too familiar phenomenon of a Parliament in a state of denial and disharmony. We have had to live with such a Parliament for years. From MPs demanding that the prime minister do everything in his power to ensure Greece remains in the euro and in the hard core of Europe, we are now, just a few months later, hearing MPs saying that the government should vote for its own socially harmful measures alone (New Democracy) and threating that all bills will be rejected (PASOK) because the prime minister is on the road to failure and is looking for naive conspirators to take down with him. No one can argue with the two opposition parties. The situation is exactly as they describe it. The ignorance and opportunism of the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition government pushed the country to endure devastating capital controls and collapse.
How, though, can the next step be taken, a solid step in the right direction, if the opposition limits itself exclusively to self-serving denial? No, the tough times are not over, as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tried to assure during his visit to the United States following his re-election, where he spoke about stability and growth. Yet the political system as a whole is behaving as though we are firmly on the path to normalcy and the parties believe that they can return to their tried-and-true roles, where the only priority is the survival of the party. Inter-party squabbling and vote-mongering have once more become the order of the day.
But the structural reforms that are pending must clearly be implemented. Yes, obviously SYRIZA is responsible for the tax avalanche that is about to crush us. However, instead of saying no to everything, New Democracy and PASOK could offer counterproposals or alternative measures. If Parliament doesn’t get its act together and start thinking in unison, we are in for dark days ahead.