The news that the government will not consider allowing stores to open every Sunday is welcome. The government was elected with a strong mandate to “break eggs” in a bid to help the country recover and put its economy on the path of growth.
Moreover, the public is starting to understand the importance of big investments because it sees them as the only way to generate jobs and to create the conditions so that the pie can grow bigger.
This may be the first time since the transition to democracy after the 1967-74 dictatorship, in fact, that the way people view entrepreneurship and investments is changing radically.
But caution is needed. This is a society that is exhausted and wounded by the economic crisis. There is a widespread fear, especially among the younger generations, that a growth shock could mean a complete disintegration of labor relations, meager wages and endless unrecorded working hours. It is of capital importance for the government to actively prove, and explain clearly, that this is not the growth model it has in mind.
Greek society is precariously balanced and could very easily tumble to the other side if it believes that economic growth will only translate into giant casinos and stores operating every day of the week.
The opposition is biding its time, seeking to create – prematurely and clumsily – the narrative of a neoliberal onslaught. At the moment, the narrative is not gaining traction because people have expectations from the government and are waiting to assess the end result.
Some people may rush to ask: “So what, will we continue with business as usual? Shouldn’t we expect change?” There is plenty of room for serious reforms, real growth incentives and a plan for sustainable, fair development. Besides, the biggest hindrances to investments are the absence of the rule of law, the obstacles placed in front of new players who want to enter the local market and a public administration that fights them.
If the government is determined to bring change, to score a few quick victories and to boost a new, healthy entrepreneurship that is not reliant on state subsidies, there is hope we will soon see better days.
At the same time, the government must always keep in mind that exaggerations in the name of growth can frighten people and turn society against it. It is the combination of courage and moderation that usually brings results.