OPINION

Time to play the Karamanlis card

The monthly VPRC survey commissioned by Skai radio found that the margin between the ruling conservative party and the Socialist opposition has narrowed, if slightly. The government’s falling popularity rates reflect voters’ disappointment with the manner in which the administration is dealing with the country’s problems. Although voters express little enthusiasm for the performance of the PASOK opposition, George Papandreou’s party has for the first time recorded some gains. The VPRC survey does not just reflect the government’s weariness; it also underscores its strongest assets. The bulk of respondents in the poll said they support the government’s reform campaign – most importantly the restructuring of public utilities, also known as DEKO, where conservative efforts enjoy 61 percent approval. Furthermore, a clear majority continues to consider New Democracy’s leader Costas Karamanlis the most suitable person for prime minister. An even larger majority holds a positive view of Karamanlis. Whoever observes public life will realize that these findings actually reflect real trends in public opinion. The answers recorded in the poll are in agreement with what we see and hear around us. On the one hand, people acknowledge the need for reforms and have confidence in the prime minister. On the other, they are frustrated with what appears to be a slow and dysfunctional administration. People hold that the government must step up its pace. The ruling party, and the premier personally, should take these two-dimensional findings into close consideration. Public grievances are fueled by a sense that the government has confined itself to a day-to-day management, that reforms are very late in coming, and that few things actually get done. People indicate a forward push as the only solution available to Greece’s administration and they want the government to move ahead, to dare more, and to build public life on new foundations. The message must reach the government’s ears. In order to forge a creative trajectory, the prime minister must use his high popularity rates, the huge confidence shown in him by the voters. If the government is to regain its creative force and stop wasting anymore time, Karamanlis must vindicate his strong profile with a number of private political initiatives.