Decision time

The daily attacks from the Socialist opposition on the government are full of generalizations, vague statements and strained criticism. PASOK has clearly been trying to project a vigorous image in an attempt to distract attention from its many internal problems, all these ahead of the crucial party convention – the first after the Socialists’ landslide defeat in March. The conservative administration is right to raise eyebrows over the opposition’s criticism. The attacks seem motivated by the need to appease PASOK’s grassroots supporters and to build a bulwark against potential accusations over the sorry legacy left to the newly installed government. To that extent, the government has no reason to worry about any hammering from the Socialists, as the majority of the public realizes that the attacks are prompted by PASOK’s special needs, so to speak. The recent helicopter crash, however, is a different story. The quality and motives of the opposition have little to do with the recent wave of criticism against the government. The important thing is that, in the public eye, the government apparatus was caught off guard. To be sure, the now-departed Socialist administration is not completely free of blame for the disaster and the ensuing mayhem. But criticism of the way in which the government tackled the issue is fair. The confusion following the crash of the Chinook helicopter revealed serious shortcomings in the state apparatus and in specific ministries, exposing Costas Karamanlis personally. It was not the first time an accident revealed serious flaws in the state mechanism. But this does not clear the government of responsibility for specific mistakes and omissions. The prime minister must have already drawn some conclusions from the tragedy. It should not be long before we hear of his decisions.