Conservatives must blow their trumpet

It’s a fact of Greek political life: When governments are in trouble, they grumble about the media doing a poor job of promoting their work. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has not made any such complains as yet; nevertheless, few would doubt that his government has failed to communicate its purpose and achievements to the general public. Without a doubt, some ministers have proved very capable of creating problems that, in turn, reinforce the impression that the conservatives lack cohesion, solidarity and effectiveness. To be sure, there have been cases where the government has displayed poor political reflexes or committed embarrassing blunders. All these have exacted a hefty political toll on the government because, except for the mistakes and omissions per se, its handling of affairs of communication has left a lot to be desired. Worse, the current administration has had to pay the price for the sins of its Socialist predecessors. During the dispute over the government’s state tender bill, the opposition’s propaganda machine sought to play on public fears that the European Union would freeze subsidies to Greece. The smear campaign was orchestrated at a time when it was known that Greece was set to lose great sums of EU funds due to PASOK’s delays and that it would have to return big chunks of EU aid because of blatant irregularities in implementing projects under the Third Community Support Framework. The European Commission had asked that the Greek government return a mammoth sum of 1.5 billion euros and only after tough negotiations did it lower its demands to a third. It should be noted that some 500 million euros has already been spent, so the government will have to turn to the state coffers. However, surprisingly little was said and written about this economic disaster. And the blatant political responsibilities of the PASOK administration have been buried. This example, which is not the only one, demonstrates the government’s poor public relations policy. New Democracy has failed dismally to advertise any accomplishments. True, these may not have lived up to public expectations, but are by no means negligent. Even in cases where the administration found commonly accepted solutions, its success attracted little, if any praise. Unfortunately, these days the only thing that exists is what we see on TV.