The toughest challenge

The toughest challenge

I keep hearing the following phrase: “these guys will never leave,” over and over again. Greece is a democratic European state, so they (the government) are bound to leave, just like the ones who will succeed them, at one point. No one can tell exactly when this will happen or in what way. One thing we should have learned by now is that there is little point in making predictions. The life expectancy of our governments has become shortened and usually does not exceed two to two-and-a-half years.

The way in which governments fall has also changed. From a technical point of view there is no pivotal event, such as a crucial Parliament vote regarding new measures, for instance. But the pressure put on deputies by their constituents can become unbearable. No matter how strong their ideological positions may be, whatever insecurities they may nurture regarding making ends meet once their careers as lawmakers are over, there comes a time when they say: “I can’t take this any longer, I’d rather go home.”

So, this government will go at one point. Hopefully it will not be a dramatic event, or in any case not before the country enters a period of normality following the conclusion of the second review of its bailout program. Otherwise, the danger of the black hole growing much, much bigger because of more instability and uncertainty is tangible, and the next government could find itself in a situation that simply cannot be managed.

Meanwhile, the damage has been done. I’m putting aside education and other crucial areas where an obsession with lowering standards is combined with incredible inefficiency in management.

Let’s agree that these can be fixed with a lot of hard work.

It will take a very long time, however, to fix the following two phenomena, which have deeply infected Greek society. The first has to do with the cynicism cultivated towards the country’s institutions and values. The prevalent notion of getting the job done at any cost has killed the few remaining traces of decency left in our DNA. When the country’s leadership behaves and talks in this way the message goes out to everyone. Disparaging comments, abuse and threats that were considered taboo since the fall of the junta have become a regular practice now.

The second thing we will find difficult to get over is the division and a tendency towards extremism that has appeared. Political developments have pushed a lot of people to extremes, from Archbishop Ieronymos to moderate intellectuals and politicians. Uniting a society that has rarely been so fragmented will prove the next government’s biggest challenge.

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