SYRIZA, New Democracy and ‘healthy entrepreneurship’


In his speech at the 2018 Thessaloniki International Fair on September 15, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis showed political maturity by avoiding personal attacks and divisive rhetoric, making it clear that he is targeting voters who despite gravitating toward the main conservative opposition are not yet completely convinced and continue to identify as undecided.

This task is not a simple one, to be sure. Moves or announcements that could be perceived as populist could well end up driving away an important chunk of moderate voters – the so-called “center” – whose stance would be decisive in determining the power balance.

The ever-grinding rumor mill and the endless debates over when the Greek general elections will take place – another persistent malaise affecting the Greek political system – continue unabated.
But as time passes, tedious speculations are eventually giving way to what is important.

Whether elections will be held on this date or that has more to do with political strategy. What is of key importance is the plan, the instruments, the priorities, the cost analyses of the fiscal measures, the specific proposals and the main aim each party has for the day after the country’s international bailouts.

Harsh reality has forced some politicians back down to earth. It is a positive sign that despite the inevitable rhetorical exaggerations, the post-bailout environment finds the two main protagonists of Greek political life agreeing that, in order to achieve real economic growth, the country needs “healthy entrepreneurship.” This is key to attracting investment and helping the Greek economy to grow.

The once-radical SYRIZA must believe in the second word of that phrase – “entrepreneurship” – and in the benefits of private initiative – which it had questioned until recently – because only this can serve as a strong engine of growth for the economy and help to benefit the whole country.

On the other hand, the main opposition party must convince voters of its commitment to the first word too – “healthy” – because for far too many years, New Democracy and PASOK governments had tolerated a corrupt business environment.

The confrontation between two different ideologies and recipes for growth will be intense. SYRIZA must convince disillusioned Greeks that the party has matured and no longer harbors illusions, while New Democracy must convince them that it has learned from the mistakes of the past.