Disentangling the political system
Democracy is no stranger to political battles between the government and the opposition. Winning and losing is also part and parcel of the democratic process. And the battle lines are drawn depending on the parties’ electoral support. What is new to our democratic system is the presence of business interests – groups that function outside the contours of accountable institutions – which in tandem with their political acolytes are trying to play a role in shaping the country’s political development. Conservative Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, as he himself reiterated yesterday, has launched a war against political and business entanglement. Should Karamanlis win this war, which he has promised to do, it will be a victory for all of Greece’s democratic forces. A victory would allow the political system to disengage itself from the powerful influence of business interests; that also applies to the opposition PASOK party, whose policies have so far been closely identified with the interests of the Socialists’ business cronies. Defeat of these powerful interests would ease their grip on the opposition party – provided that the Socialist leadership also wants to seize the opportunity. But if the government truly wants to do away with graft and corruption, waging war against entangled interests on all levels is good but not enough. New Democracy must first improve its own overall governing performance. The key to success lies in an aggressive policy that will provide swift and effective solutions to current problems – and based on a clear vision about the country’s future. Political and business entanglement has bred intentional stagnation that has deadlocked the political process. The best way to shake the entangled interests is by getting society to move forward. Notwithstanding the smear campaign against the government via the business interests’ control of the media, the government’s problem goes further than the realm of public relations. Most crucially, the conservatives have not yet managed to take apart the sleaze-ridden apparatus on which the entangled interests rest. That should be Karamanlis’s first priority if he wants to overcome the harmful resistance of these reactionary forces.