Greece’s progress does not depend only on the ambition, the plans and the actions of the government but also on the magnitude of the reaction and on society’s support or indifference. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his government have moved quickly and decisively, trying to create a set of faits accomplis before the wave of protest swells, before the opposition parties get organized, before the joy of victory among ruling party members gives way to concerns for the political cost of change. However, speed, aside from being necessary, also poses the risk of our underestimating the gap between the government’s intentions and the result.
After decades in which the political system’s priority was to serve the interests of various powerful groups and, secondly, those of the social whole, it is natural that every government will face a climate of generalized cynicism as well as the virulent opposition of any group that fears losing benefits. And so, with the tolerance of the many and the dynamic intervention of the few, rules and mentalities that should have taken root long ago are seen as fantasies, as revolutionary. Organized interests always undermined the functioning of universities, the implementation of laws, the rules of healthy competition, the strength of institutions, important construction projects and any measures making the country friendlier toward business and investments. A gap formed between what we ought to consider normal and what constituted our reality.
To see whether that gap is narrowing or widening, we will have to see how prepared and determined this government will be – and how dynamic and organized the reactions.
From implementing the anti-smoking law to reforming the economy and the public administration, the government will be tested continually. Will it be able to impose the law without exceptions? Will society support it in the clashes over the university asylum law, or the conditions under which convicted terrorists are held? Will privatization and investments be supported so as to create jobs?
It is likely that, in a while, things will look more difficult than they do today. But perhaps the failure of every past effort to ignore the distortions in our politics and economy, and the high cost of this, has brought us to a point where more people will support reforms.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis has the opportunity to lead us over the gap toward a more functional country. As long as he can convince people that his government cares for everyone, with neither favorites nor foes.