Escaping unscathed

The Imia crisis, the Ocalan fiasco, the phone-tapping scandal: three disasters that were blamed on the governments of the time but fell short of creating any electorate shifts. It is important to remember this in light of recent opinion polls that attribute most of the responsibility for the eavesdropping case on the current conservative government and the prime minister. All three cases have one thing in common: the involvement of foreign governments and intelligence services. It seems that despite the initial furor, the evidence of outside interference has prompted the public to rally around the government. That explains why New Democracy’s attacks on the previous, Socialist government that handled the Imia and Ocalan crises left no scars on PASOK – much in the way that George Papandreou’s recent criticism has mostly fallen by the wayside. The people’s limited reaction is a sign of political maturity and sound judgment – characteristics that Greece’s spinmeisters seem to shun when hammering out their strategy. Naturally, their political verbiage and posturing is out of synch with voters’ concerns. If New Democracy loses the next elections it won’t be because of the phone-tapping affair. Similarly, the PASOK governments before it were not voted out of power because of the Imia crisis or the Ocalan debacle that brought a sacking of top government ministers. Simitis lost the elections when he could no longer pose as a modern, decisive and effective leader. But voters have no reason to share politicians’ fears of defeat. And they are reluctant to embrace their self-serving mutations. All these are important now that the looming wave of strikes will put the government on the spot. It will test the courage, the determination and consistency of the government.

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