Struggle with no identity

This week’s parliamentary committee debate on banks’ social security reform has two sides. The serious aspect was marked by the low-key treatment accorded it by the main opposition PASOK party (in fact, PASOK leader George Papandreou did not speak on the issue), allowing one to assume that when Parliament votes on the amendment next Thursday, the bank strike will end and the major structural change to this strategic sector will begin to bear fruit for the economy. Unfortunately, the debate was also characterized by contradictory positions expressed by opposition parties and on occasion by the government, which was more in the nature of the theater of the absurd, and, if nothing else, revealed the lack of a specific political identity. Former economy and finance minister Nikos Christodoulakis referred to some of the paradoxes, such as the statement by a Communist Party (KKE) deputy that his party would vote for the amendment, the fiery defense of the law (originally drafted by PASOK) by Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos and a statement by PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos that his party would vote for the amendment proposed by New Democracy’s Miltiades Evert. However, behind the theater of the absurd lies a great truth: As soon as Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis assumed full responsibility for the reforms, all the contradictions within PASOK came to the surface. The pressure is particularly strong on the PASOK leader, a true reformer who moreover realizes that it will be in his interest, if he becomes prime minister, if the ND government has already removed the obstacles. Yet he is also obliged to compromise within his party. The point is that this is a very interesting time in the country’s political and economic life, as Karamanlis’s reforms are seeking to do away with the cliental relationships on which our political system was built.

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