Conservatives hit halfway mark

If the past is any guide, midway through a four-year term is a tough moment for any government. The conservative administration is no exception. Its reform program is under way but has yet to yield fruit. The administration is already paying the political price for the reform policies without enjoying any of the rewards coming from those who stand to benefit from the structural changes in the coming years. Nevertheless, the government has still managed to retain a narrow lead over the Socialist opposition in opinion polls. Politically speaking, the exact margin is not very important. Similarly, the publicity that follows these public surveys is also of secondary importance. The very fact that New Democracy maintains a lead – even a tissue-thin one – is a good starter for the second half of its term. Much depends on whether the government makes the most of its advantages. On election day, it will be judged primarily on the basis of its performance. That also presupposes that its achievements will be visible to the naked eye. The vast majority of people realize that New Democracy not only inherited PASOK’s corrupt legacy, it also inherited an ailing economy. Barring the first six months in office when the administration was totally focused on staging a successful Olympic Games, the government has since faced the challenge of recovery. These two years have seen many accomplishments as well as mistakes. Kathimerini does not share the self-congratulatory mood that permeated the statements of some ministers on the two-year anniversary. On the other hand, we have to acknowledge that serious effort has been made – and not without positive results. But that should not be any cause for relaxation. The problems dogging the country demand greater effort and effectiveness. This is a challenge that the prime minister and his government officials must meet. Unfortunately, the opposition is short on constructive criticism and rich in blanket negativism. But the game is usually decided by governments’ own successes and failures.