Inner dissent

Bickering inside the governing party has intensified. Fiscal gloom should not encourage political favors, yet deputies request them despite the administration’s struggles with fulfilling pre-election pledges such as staff shortages in state clinics and universities. Some New Democracy MPs are also openly challenging the government’s economic policy in Parliament while DAKE, the ND-affiliated union, has surpassed the zeal of its Socialist counterparts in raising obstacles on the matter of the bank employees’ social security and the reform of OTE Telecom. This could all be the prologue to a peculiar dissent within the party. Current discord is fueled by politically expedient objectives. These are unpopular with the public and hence pose no real threat to the government. The big problem for Costas Karamanlis would materialize were the dissent to become ideological and a reflection of popular disappointment with a dysfunctional government. Take Dora Bakoyannis for example. Speaking at a party gathering in Thessaloniki the conservative Athens mayor said that the government’s fishing in the murky waters of the political middle ground has stripped ND of its ideological identity and spotlighted the cracks in the administration’s cohesion. These may be the first signs of a fledgling opposition inside the ND ranks. But Bakoyannis may be eyeing nothing more than a place in the Foreign Ministry. Karamanlis should consider whether Bakoyannis’s ambitions and the increasing dissent of Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias would get all that publicity if the government were doing a good job. Souflias’s critical comments always make headlines in the media affiliated with the Socialists main opposition party.