Lifting a national curse

Lifting a national curse

It takes a great deal of insolence, after being in power for four-and-a-half years, being responsible for triggering a third bailout agreement that brought the Greek people to their knees, taking a huge toll on public investment and infrastructure maintenance, and only a month after being unseated in a national election, to attack the new government for chronic problems such as that which severed connections between the northern Aegean island of Samothraki and mainland Greece recently.

Above all, such political behavior shows that you are attacking the government for the sake of attacking it, allowing the pro-opposition press to spin headlines such as “The government ran aground on Samothraki.”

Similarly, after spending less than a month in power, the party that spent four-and-a-half years in opposition slamming the SYRIZA-led government for its poor economic performance and lack of credibility suddenly realizes that the country is in a position to tap international markets and meet budget targets. It evidently indulged in rampant scaremongering while in opposition, while its criticism of the previous government appears to have been way over the top.

Greek politics is like that, black or white. Their guys did everything wrong while our guys did everything right. Most of the blame for the recent polarization, it must be said, lies with Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s former leftist prime minister, and his divisive rhetoric about “germanotsoliades” (a slang term used for Greeks who collaborated with the German occupying forces during World War II), traitors and Merkelists, not to mention his infamous statement, “We will finish them or they will finish us.”

All that is (painful) history, along with the bailout agreements. Britain and Italy are the new black sheep of Europe while Greece is gradually returning to normality, creating positive expectations internationally. The two mainstream contenders must live up to the requirements of the new environment. They have to move beyond the miserable your-death-is-my-life political mode. They need to reach a minimal level of consensus and hammer out a national strategy around commonly accepted priorities such as the effort to bring down primary surplus targets and the need to attract foreign investment.

There is still a lot of ground to cover before Greece can bridge the gap separating it from its European partners. Knocking down what your predecessors built will not help move the country forward. We need to shed what has become a national curse.

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