OPINION

The new government

Governments are judged by their actions and Costas Karamanlis’s first administration is no exception to the rule. True to his earlier pledges, the core of the Cabinet consists of people of his own generation, some of whom have yet to establish themselves in the public eye. This is another indication of the ongoing renewal in the political arena. The comfortable margin by which the conservative party won the national election gives Karamanlis ample room to maneuver and the power to formulate a working government that will bear his own political stamp and be under his direct control. This new structure has no space for barons that could, at some point in the future, gain independence and play their own games. In that sense, Karamanlis will be entirely responsible for his government. A closer look at the new Cabinet makeup and the distribution of portfolios indicates Karamanlis’s political intentions. The new premier has shaped a government that is in sync with the political and ideological profile that he projected before the vote – itself a sign of consistency. This means a free-market platform (that is, liberalism in the European sense), coupled with a strong social face. This is an interesting ideological blend which shall be put to the test. A keen interest in the less well-off of society can indeed be combined with a radical, reformist spirit that will liberate creative economic and social forces. The humility which Karamanlis pledged before the polls must not remain a slogan but rather constitute a criterion in the selection of government officials. This is the only way to mold a sincere relationship with the populace, a sine qua non for the smooth promotion of the requisite reforms. The new prime minister takes the helm of the country at a challenging time. It is not just the sorry state of the economy, but a time of pressing social demands. Above all, it is the acute matter of Olympic preparations. Long delays, especially in the construction of Olympics-related projects, have put an extremely heavy strain on the government, and leave no room for interference with the scheduled process. In fact, the European elections in June and the Games in August mean that radical measures in all sectors will have to wait until after September. Until then, however, Karamanlis will have to take some very cautious steps in order to avoid negative, and potentially fatal, side effects. He must show his true political intentions with deeds. This mainly concerns the crucial issues of political morality and an effective war on graft and corruption.