OPINION

Critical turning point

Both major political parties are warming their engines in preparation for the traditional September clash at the Thessaloniki International Fair, where they will both reveal their strategies for the economy and other key policy areas. For Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, the fact that he has not yet maximized his first year in power to push through critical reforms ensures that the next nine months could well be the most critical of his term. In any case, the PM is at a turning point. His party’s decline is considerable, even though PASOK is not yet offering any effective opposition. Karamanlis continues to be popular, but chiefly because voters still have the failures of the previous government fresh in their minds. So, although he has maintained political supremacy, his prospects are not particularly promising, encumbered by the economic problems affecting large sections of the population. The 2.7 percent lead which New Democracy currently has over PASOK, according to a recent opinion poll, cannot be regarded as a safe differential, especially as the overall trend is toward a narrowing of this gap… In any case, political success will be determined chiefly in the field of the economy, and in citizens’ everyday life. If the government does well in these areas, it will be more than half way toward clinching a second four-year term for itself.