OPINION

A new era dawns for Greece

Last week’s election result was a surprise to many people and a relief to many more. The demand for political change, which was widespread among the public despite being snubbed by the majority of the media, was expressed in an unequivocal fashion and finally relegated PASOK, a party which had been in power for nearly two decades, to the opposition. The electoral outcome proved that the Greek people had made up their minds a long time before the ballot day. People wanted governmental change, for they could no longer stand corruption and the constant, blatant violation of principles, values and laws. Conservative leader Costas Karamanlis has consistently, both in previous years and in the run-up to the vote, expressed the popular demand for political change. He made a huge effort and did not hesitate to clash with vested interests in order to promote this demand, and in the end the Greek people rewarded him, offering a clear victory and a big majority in Parliament. His first moves after becoming premier and picking his cabinet, the symbolism that he has conveyed and his public language indicate a return to those long-abandoned standards and principles. The new prime minister appears to be driven by the same motives that prompted the voters last Sunday to sweep out the socialist government. Karamanlis knows that any systems, societies and states which in the past violated the fundamental rules of equality before the law, of equality of opportunity, and of respect for the rule of law might have enjoyed a few short-lived gains, but saw their woes grow in the long term. It is no coincidence that prosperity and progress both flourish in law-abiding societies which display deep respect for values and principles. Karamanlis’s urging and recommendations to his ministers to adhere to political principles and values that were once self evident, are the sign of a new era in politics and, at the same time, a solution to the situation that had beset the previous period. The approval rate of Karamanlis by far exceeds the threshold set at last week’s national election – and this fills him with an even greater sense of responsibility. The Greek people want to see Karamanlis materialize his pledges. He must prove that they were not empty public relations talk. People want to see a strong rule of law, equality before the law, and a strong democracy which can thwart conflicting interests and ensure a correct allocation of resources. The new prime minister appears to have the knowledge and the willingness to usher in a new political era. Time will tell if he also has the power to do so.