Out of focus

The election campaign has officially come to an end, pollsters are not allowed to publish their findings, and the outcome of the ballot is uncertain. The demand for political change – a message mainly expressed by the New Democracy party – is strong, but one should not ignore PASOK’s longstanding ties with society, and the muffled climate of the election period is hard to decipher. Surely there can be no safe prediction. Prolonged as the electoral campaign may have been, it did not touch on issues that will top the agenda the day after. It did not address the big economic challenges, the Olympic Games, or the structural reforms that are needed to boost Greece’s lagging productivity and its faltering competitiveness. Pre-election talk did not focus on the shortcomings of Greece’s political and economic system, including the widespread graft and corruption – factors which undermine the equality of opportunity and equality before the law. On the contrary, the final stretch saw increasing fanaticism and polarization, a return to tactics that speak to the heart, not to the mind. There was no comprehensive discussion on the future and the prospects of the country – and the ruling party must bear most of the blame for that. The government disguised the looming fiscal crisis and indulged in lavish, last-minute spending promises – the price of which will have to be paid by the next administration. The grim picture will be confirmed by the spring report of the Bank of Greece, which ought to have issued an earlier warning that would have reshaped the campaign discourse. Whoever wins the election, the day after will be tough for the new administration. It will have to tackle a complex and difficult situation that will call for urgent decisions, confrontation, courage and flexibility.

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