OPINION

Finding solutions

Symbolism is always important and, in that sense, the New Year must mark the acceleration of the conservatives’ efforts in all sectors of government activity. True, after New Democracy’s victory in the March elections, the prime minister and his ministers found themselves in a tricky situation. As a result, they have had to surmount difficulties, solve acute problems and overcome chronic conundrums. Without doubt, they are faced with a daunting task but it is here that they must prove themselves. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. It is worth noting that some 10 months after it rose to power, the New Democracy leadership has come under fire – some of it warranted. On the other hand, we should not underestimate the government’s achievements so far. Preparations for the Athens Olympics were largely carried out under its Socialist predecessors but the crucial final phase took place under Costas Karamanlis’s leadership. Accordingly, it should get praise for bringing the Games to a successful close. Besides this major national accomplishment, the conservative administration has introduced a number of changes which have improved people’s everyday lives on many levels – including legislation clearing up the status of Greece’s hordes of contract workers. Similar measures can be traced in the health and transportation sectors. The government has also taken steps to trim red tape. Government reflexes have also improved considerably since the Chinook helicopter tragedy. The response of the state machinery in the Maliakos Gulf road accident was satisfactory. Again, the government received top marks for its handling of the recent bus hijacking. Finally, the administration was quick in sending humanitarian aid to the tsunami-lashed areas in Asia and helping Greek tourists get back home. The government has in one way or another capitalized on these facts. Nevertheless, these are not enough to consolidate the political hegemony of Karamanlis’s party – a hegemony that was established over the past couple of years, leading to the landslide victory in the national elections. The battle will be fought in the areas of the economy and of people’s everyday problems, so called. The point is to find satisfactory answers to these problems. In order to do this, the government must recruit competent managers from the private sector, who are now keeping a distance from political parties.