Now for the hard part

Any new government’s grace period depends chiefly on three factors: the magnitude of its electoral victory, the post-electoral condition of its rival party, and the degree of difficulty of its governing task. The New Democracy government clearly has only to gain from the first two factors, with its 5 percent win over a PASOK party which now appears to be entering a phase of major transformation, meaning it will need some time before it is in a position to threaten ND again. Nevertheless the third factor, which is also the most important, requires ND to dive right in the deep end and deal with the country’s economic problems (structural changes, deregulation of markets with real privatizations, abolition of monopolies and so on). These ND campaign commitments are certain to provoke organized and mass protests on the part of unions and other groups with vested interests. Of course, the next five months include the European Parliament elections and the task of completing preparations for the Olympic Games. In all its post-electoral activities, PASOK has had the Euro-elections in its sights. (PASOK leader George) Papandreou’s decision to appoint Evangelos Venizelos to lead PASOK’s Euro-election campaign was obviously done in order to make him co-responsible in the event of a negative outcome in the election, in which case there could be dramatic developments in the main opposition party. However, it would be a great mistake for the new government to adapt its work to a looming crisis in PASOK. The election result of March 7 was mainly a vote of confidence in the New Democracy party and its leader. Moreover, there is no guarantee of the people’s indulgence due to a weakening of the rival party’s reactions to measures that might be painful for certain categories of «privileged» people. The imposition of such policies presupposes the acceptance and trust of the majority as evident in the still-fresh mandate accorded to the government. For all these reasons, as is always the case for new governments, the main, most decisive and most crucial period in the entire government term is the first six to eight months. It is this period that New Democracy is being called upon to make use of for the good of the country and not for partisan purposes.

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