The risk of reconciliation

The risk of reconciliation

Rows in the Greek Parliament have become uncomfortably commonplace. The presence of neo-fascist Golden Dawn MPs has sent standards tumbling. It’s not just your typically bad-tempered deputy that never misses a chance of pouring oil on the flames. Every so often we see new warring pairs from both the government and the opposition camp.

A small but by no means negligible change, however, is that the people’s interest in conflagrations of this sort is waning. After a while, the news gets lost in the overriding fatigue and indifference.

Since the outbreak of the nation’s financial crisis, the Parliament has seen uneasy bedfellows, politically expedient defections, and incomprehensible marriages.

The pressure is great, politicians from the two biggest political parties, SYRIZA and New Democracy, have both voted for and against bailout agreements, depending on whether they were in government or the opposition.

We have had enough. To be sure, Greek politicians are unlikely to change their political demeanor. But their vociferous outbursts no longer have the power to affect a critical mass of voters. Quite the opposite, in fact. The leftist-led administration has made the situation worse thanks to a mix of populism, ignorance, arrogance and cynicism. At the same time, there is very little that can come from the conservative opposition’s sterile rejectionism.

As of Monday, Greece will enter a new phase marked by a leftist version of austerity, including the infamous automatic fiscal adjustment mechanism.

Historians will tell us to what extent all that could have been avoided. The existing conditions defy a sober analysis.

The tone needs to calm down to make way for political consensus. One should not equate this with uncritical debate or oblivion. Mutual compromises and adjustments – after all, both SYRIZA and New Democracy have voted for bailout agreements – is the only thing left to try. Politicians from both camps must take a fresh look at the problems on the basis of a joint plan instead of resorting to the worn-out stereotypes of the half-hearted champion of the bailout versus the angry critic.

Disagreement, indignation and threats have been on a loop for the past six years. Nothing good can come out of a conservative party that remains haunted by the so-called Zappeio economic programs, in the same way that nothing positive came out of SYRIZA’s “delusions.”

Perhaps it’s time both SYRIZA and New Democracy got to grips with reality.

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