The hard truths our politicians aren’t telling us


Former finance minister Alekos Papadopoulos once more expressed some difficult truths when he said on Thursday that Greece will not be able to remain in the eurozone with the “maladjusted” political personnel it has today. Unfortunately, it appears that you need to be an ex to speak with such candor.

From the left and right, from the progressive, liberal and conservative camps, almost every single one of our politicians has taken the slippery slope of populism due to fear of the political cost of doing otherwise. Some even fear they will disappear from the political stage if they dare speak the truth.

This is a fact that was confirmed for the umpteenth time at Thursday’s debate in Parliament, during which most of the politicians opted to take the easy route, the one that best serves their own interests rather than that which serves the country, because they feel that the latter could endanger their chances of re-election.

Commenting on the discussion in Parliament, Papadopoulos reminded us that once Greece’s creditors withdraw from the forefront after the country’s much-lauded exit from the program – regardless of whether this is “clean,” as the government claims, or not, as the opposition insists – we will then have to deal with the international markets. And this is not going to be a walk in the park – as European Central Bank board member Benoit Coeure warned a few days ago.

Unlike others, the former finance minister had the courage to state that the measures in all the memoranda that Greece has agreed to, and which will be enforced in the years to come, are necessary to the country’s survival, “regardless of whether they constitute a fourth memorandum or not.” He even went to so far in this statement of honesty and courage as to say that planned pension cuts are a structural measure that should not be suspended, as it may be the key to saving the country’s pension system.

If there is one thing we have learned from the crisis, it is that we reached this point because the voices of reason were drowned out by strident tones of populism. And this is something that has been experienced by everyone who tried to defend common sense, from the center-right to the center-left, from former New Democracy leader and prime minister Constantinos Mitsotakis to former PASOK minister of social services Tassos Yiannitsis.