Tough challenges ahead

The newly elected conservative government is faced with a complex situation. All areas of its activity are facing emergencies. The new government has inherited staggering economic, political and organizational deficits, and timetables are tight. A few months before the Olympic Games opening ceremony, many venues and infrastructure projects are behind schedule while the Madrid carnage and the rise of Islamic terrorism have intensified security concerns. At the same time, the country is faced with a resurgence of violence in Kosovo – Greek troops participate in the international force – and is pushing for a Cyprus settlement in a context that has been shaped by third parties. Further financial strain results from scarce resources, while the need to fulfill pre-election pledges adds further to this pressure and requires delicate handling. The government must win the wager of overhauling the sleaze-ridden system, remedy the distortions of the market, and restore trust and security at all levels. These challenges will test the endurance, the inventiveness, and the composure of the new government, and will determine its goals and priorities. So far, the government’s initiatives and the way in which it has dealt with issues offer some scope for optimism. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has extended his popularity rate over the pre-election period, creating expectations for a good term in office. He holds a great deal of political power in his hands and is enjoying a substantial grace period. At the same time, the Socialist opposition has no clear idea of where it is going while George Papandreou’s effectiveness is being questioned inside his party. PASOK is on a downhill course, which puts the ball in Karamanlis’s court. The conservative leader must reinforce a climate of trust and then try to make the most of the various, and sometimes incommensurable, goals.

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