OPINION

Dishonest PASOK

It may sound cliche to bring up Greece’s fiscal troubles, especially after the European Union decided to put the economy under supervision, but this does not reduce the seriousness of the situation nor the urgency of structural measures under a strict time frame. The 2006 budget reflects these exigencies. Any unbiased observer will acknowledge that the budget shows the government’s attempt to meet fiscal targets without imposing any new taxes which would hit the lower-income groups hardest of all. In other words, the government of Costas Karamanlis refuses to copy the recipe of its predecessors with a quick fix of macroeconomic indices – Constantine Mitsotakis, Andreas Papandreou and Costas Simitis: more taxes, one-off levies, freeze incomes, reduction of incomes. This government is trying to bring deficit figures down from 6.0-6.5 percent to 3 percent without imposing new taxes. Success would be welcome by everyone in the country. People are stunned at the orchestrated campaign by the Socialist opposition party and the pro-PASOK media to undermine the government program. Instead of blushing at the dire consequences of PASOK’s economic failures and hope for speedy financial recovery, they have launched a campaign that seeks to intimidate voters by giving the impression that the conservatives’ measures are doomed and that the EU is ostensibly demanding new taxes. We are hence watching a political theater of the absurd where an ostensibly socialist party is pressuring a conservative government to impose new taxes, freeze wages and cut incomes. People have had enough of this tragicomedy. PASOK has turned from a left-of-center party into a hardcore neo-liberal one. Its leader, George Papandreou, is only indirectly responsible for the economic policies of the Simitis administrations, so he might as well drop the recent scaremongering rhetoric that borders on the ludicrous. A more constructive stance would be one in the country’s interest. After all, the two mainstream parties have never objected to the Maastricht criteria and are equally to blame for the current woes.