Expecting a ruling party to fall like a ripe fruit from a tree is a very risky strategy for any opposition. It is convenient to believe that you don’t need to do much to climb to power and can just wait for the wrong turn, the fatal mistake that will bring the administration down; to think that, rather than having to mature yourself, you can wait for your rival to go rotten.
That’s when the various scenarios begin to unfold. The most popular concerns a crisis with Turkey or public disagreements within the administration about how to deal with Greek-Turkish relations. Another scenario is based on the precipitous deterioration of pandemic numbers that will eventually lead the healthcare system and the economy to collapse under the pressure.
Thinking along such lines may certainly appeals to a political leader. In part, it serves as an alibi for not doing what he or she ought to do: that is, to prepare, to find fresh and talented people, to rejuvenate the party, to propose feasible and technocratically pragmatic solutions to the problems facing the country. Greece’s political system, after all, feeds on nonstop speculation.
When the cafés of “authority” were operating in central Athens, many scenarios circulated back and forth with unfounded information. These always included a few “foreigners” to which scenarios were attributed and which they were unaware of. An inconceivable amount of energy is expended at this perpetual “café.”
Regrettably, most politicians and their cronies have a soft spot for that because it takes far less effort compared to the arduous process of preparing oneself to rule the country. The script has often played out in the past, and it has always come at a hefty price. For example, we paid a heavy price for Alexis Tsipras’ anxiety to knock Antonis Samaras, the former conservative premier, out of power, as if the SYRIZA chief were ready to govern.
We live in demanding times. The challenges of 2021 are nothing like those of the past. The people are better informed and they still have fresh memories of the turmoil that their protest vote led to. We always say that the country needs a good opposition as well as a good government. For the time being, the opposition is locked in navel-gazing mode, while indulging in litanies to political totems of the post-1974 era – totems that Greek society has already left behind.
Choosing to wait for the conservatives to fall from the tree may seem like a safe tactic. However, there’s always the danger that the opposition will go bad before the fruit does.