Putting an end to the debate

The constitutional provision of early elections to appoint a new president has often been criticized. There is no reason to grant either the government or the opposition the ability to provoke elections when the whole point is to find an individual who can attract the greatest possible consensus and who will probably possess only symbolic power. This is no place to analyze whether the constitutional provision in question should have been amended already. What is certain is that it need not be amended as long as political logic and responsibility exist. The fact that early elections are an option does not mean that we should be seriously considering calling them, especially when they have no political significance. But that is exactly what is happening at the moment. Our country has a new government that came to power nine months ago after clinching a clear majority. It is not as if we have a tired administration that the opposition would be justified in trying to topple. On the other hand, this new administration was elected to govern, not to worry about how it is going to extend its time in office with a quick new victory. And this is emphatically expressed by the public, whose opposition to early elections can be seen in opinion polls. The opposition PASOK party has made it clear that it wants a a consensual solution. And although it was internal party matters that influenced this conclusion, the outcome is politically logical. The government, on the other hand, is avoiding a conclusion to the debate; and this stance would not be worrying if the matter had not been broached in the first place, or if the government had said that it regarded the debate as premature and then refused to comment any further. But that did not happen. Instead, cadres, deputies and ministers persist in making statements and insinuations, disagreeing and analyzing; Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis himself appears to be constantly changing his mind about when to declare his stance. As a result, a whole array of scenarios are created and vagueness reigns supreme regarding the possibility of early elections. This uncertainty, which is already affecting the economy, must be brought to an end. There is no political justification for early elections. The people are against them. The opposition is open to consensus. The prime minister, therefore, should certainly be able to wrap up the matter within a month, by announcing the identity of our new president by Christmas.