Political myopia

In a month from now, Greek citizens will flock to balloting booths to decide on the number of deputies that will represent each party in the European Parliament. Worn out by the recent election race on March 7, the two major parties are bracing – without much enthusiasm – for another contest. For all the lack of enthusiasm in Greece, the EU is at a crucial crossroads. The bloc’s expansion after the inclusion of 10 new members has put an enormous strain on its institutions, the Union has yet to hammer out a new constitution, political cooperation between member countries (those of the old and new Europe) is faltering, and relations between Europe and the US are at a low point. The economies of EU member states are under pressure from liberal economic policies, which have prevailed over the exhausted recipes of European social democratic parties. Although the European polls are only a month away, the two main parties have failed to present their views on the key issues which are due to be discussed in the European Parliament. Once again, New Democracy and PASOK seem to be viewing European elections as a secondary contest or as a nationwide opinion poll. Ruling party officials have said their aim is to once more prove that New Democracy is the country’s dominant political force while their Socialist foes say their goal is to rally the party’s fighting forces so as to avert a result that would further undermine PASOK’s fortunes. The conservative party would be happy to widen its lead over PASOK while the Socialists would be satisfied if they managed to narrow the gap to under five percentage points. There is nothing particularly European about all this. And yet, the outcome of the ongoing EU debates will, to a large degree, determine Greece’s future course.

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