Tonic needed

The year is drawing to a close and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, some 10 months after his victory, is looking for a tonic to energize his government. At the same time, talk in the corridors over the best timing for a reshuffle will be growing. The government has some very active ministers, it has produced a considerable amount of legislation, it has shown persistence in fighting entangled interests and a clear will to take measures aimed at tackling people’s everyday problems. Nevertheless, the vigor that the premier should have expected is nowhere to be seen. This is not because some ministers and deputies have been putting on a poor performance or because of poor communication among them. Rather, a basic ingredient is missing, and has been from most past administrations: a coordinated policy to strengthen the country’s productive base. 2005 will be a crucial year. Accumulated fiscal problems (largely generated by the political fantasies of Costas Simitis’s reformists), structural shortcomings, faltering productivity, delays in the modernization of public administration all constitute a problem that, regardless of the amount of ministerial effort, is too big to tackle through conventional measures. If Karamanlis really wishes to inaugurate a new era marked by a «new administration» as he has often said in the past, he will have to launch new, more courageous and effective policies. If he is to carry out his government’s plans, he will have to lead a team of the highest standards, consisting of the best his party has to offer as well as others outside the party who have distinguished themselves in the broader state and private sector. After all, every politician knows that there are many competent people who are on the fringes of public life because of the way in which our political system operates.