The first 100 days

Talking about the first 100 days of the new government, a colleague recounted his experience of a similar major changeover of government in 1981. He told us how, during the night of the elections, when the results came out, he tried to get a cab in Omonia. He hailed an empty cab, sat in the back seat and said: «Kolonaki, please.» The driver gave him a dirty look and said, angrily: «Get out, sir. I am not going to Kolonaki.» To be sure, an extreme incident but indicative of the climate back then. Such a vindictive atmosphere has been virtually absent this time. A sweeping reshuffle of the public sector that many had feared never came. In fact there has been reaction to the government’s delay in switching officials. Politically speaking, adapting to the new situation has been smooth; some would even say slow. The government has shown no intention of pushing through radical changes and appears to be using the runup to the Games to brace the public for a shift of policy after October. The new government has tackled problems in a clearly political manner, avoiding provocation and favoring cautious, incremental steps so as to complete remaining projects, such as Olympics venues. At the same time, the government is trying to accentuate the mess it says was left by the Socialists in an attempt to discredit stumbling PASOK and prepare the ground for the new economic measures. Many businessmen, especially the economic elite, have expressed some disappointment in the foot-dragging of the new administration, but everything suggests that the prime minister just has his own way of doing things. He will not issue major challenges and rectify things where he can without upsetting his ties with society. That is the message of the first 100 days. The question is, can his approach tackle economic problems of that size and intensity? Only time will tell.