OPINION

Post-Olympics strategy

Symbolism and slogans – to the degree they embody a political message – have made their mark on the past, rallying people around a starting point. There are specific examples in our recent post-1974 history which shaped decisions and policies. The 1985 economic crisis was encapsulated by the message: «We consume more than we produce.» The phrase, coming from the lips of then Economy Minister Costas Simitis (who later inherited the leadership of the PASOK party), became the premise behind political stabilization. Simitis’s slogan signified a difficult period and foreshadowed the policy that was to come: a 10-year effort to achieve nominal convergence and EMU accession. Again, at a later crucial turning point after the 1993 elections, the late Andreas Papandreou grounded his policy turnaround on the (dramatic, as was his habit) statement: «Either the nation will eliminate the debt or the debt will eliminate the nation» – a clear message for all those who questioned the road to the EU. The times we live in – a period that will see the full realization of the political changeover and full disclosure of the Olympic burden – call for a new message to encompass national strategy through 2010. The new administration – whose early tasks involved dealing with the outstanding challenges bequeathed by the Socialists, such as the Cyprus dispute and the completion of Olympics-related projects – will, as of September, truly begin to set the tone for its style of governance. After the curtain has fallen on the Games, the huge structural deficits and other problems will be catapulted onto center stage. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will then have to lay out his own national strategy and energize the masses for the years to come. The goal must be clear; it must touch off debate, even controversy. This is the only way to mark out a sure path to the future.