A bad tradition

Whatever justification the government might put forth to explain its lack of energetic application since it was elected in March, it would surely find it difficult to bypass one truth: that certain ministers do not have the best of relationships with each other, that certain deputy ministers do not cooperate as they should with the ministers they answer to, and that the New Democracy party apparatus communicates poorly with certain government officials. All these problems are seriously hindering the government’s leadership from quickly and effectively implementing policies it has drafted in order to reform key productive sectors. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis bears primary responsibility for these irregularities. Clearly, he must strictly monitor the activities and behavior of government officials who manage to stir up problems until the time comes for a reshuffle. But this problem now on Karamanlis’s plate is difficult to solve quickly because it is the result of a longstanding and unfortunate tradition in New Democracy. Indeed, from the moment that party founder Constantine Karamanlis abandoned his post as prime minister and leader of New Democracy in 1980, the party has been plagued by a lack of internal political cohesion – the outcome of major gripes, personal conflicts and the frivolous behavior of key figures. From 1997, when Costas Karamanlis was elected to lead New Democracy, he managed to maintain a higher level of internal cohesiveness in the party. At the same time, he managed to make overtures to the so-called «middle ground» without creating major shock waves within the party, sidelining (and sometimes ejecting from the party) a series of figures of the «old right.» Today, however, with New Democracy governing the country once again, the griping and immature political behavior of government and party officials merely serve to assure politicians and citizens alike that this unfortunate party tradition is still alive and flourishing. Certain New Democracy officials forget that one of the basic factors in their party’s election victory last March was the fact that Karamanlis was heading a party that cohered internally; another factor was the obvious fatigue of the PASOK government as opposed to New Democracy’s relative freshness. Costas Karamanlis therefore must tackle two serious problems: determine how to best monitor the pace and coordination of government activities, and how to tackle this old tradition of internal friction which has again resurfaced within his party.