A crumbling system

A number of interesting developments are currently at play in the domestic political arena. The mainstream political parties, the trade unions and the sections of society who enjoy close ties to the public sector all appear to be in disarray. The apparent confusion has been caused by the government’s reform campaign, a necessary measure to tackle Greece’s fiscal woes, faltering productivity and dysfunctional civil administration. These problems have no place in a changing global environment where emerging powers are struggling to increase their international market share – a tectonic shift that is adding to the pressure on Greece’s debt-ridden and largely uncompetitive economy. The political class is in a mess. In the government camp, the prime minister has turned a deaf ear to the worries of conservative cadres and is determined to brave the political cost of structural change. Costas Karamanlis must also deal with the Conservative party’s base. New Democracy-affiliated unionists do not wish to undermine the government’s work but, more importantly, they don’t want to damage their own popularity and credibility with workers. The Socialist opposition is following its own deteriorating political course, shouldering the burden of a reformist legacy that never was. PASOK is juggling many different objectives. Party head George Papandreou is increasingly resorting to heated rhetoric that often borders on populism. At the same, he is trying to strike a balance with PASOK-affiliated unionists who try to keep a militant profile by lambasting government reforms. Yet these unionists strain to disguise the defects of self-styled socialist unionism. Times are hard for those who have used their top posts to perpetuate a convenient system that is now crumbling under the pressure of inexorable realities.

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