Short memories

Hoping for a temporary boost to its public image – but to the long-term detriment of the country’s wider economic and social order – opposition PASOK is raising the banners of populism ahead of municipal elections and encouraging protest action as party leader George Papandreou urges confrontational tactics. Meanwhile, former PASOK public works minister Vasso Papandreou – evidently counting upon those with short memories who have forgotten the performance of the previous government during its eight-years in office – maintains that PASOK would have given workers’ double the wage hikes the current government has approved, that is increases of around 7 percent. And the former minister says this despite her knowledge that the actual wage increases during Costas Simitis’s eight years as head of government ranged between 1.9 percent and 2.4 percent, with the exception of the two pre-electoral years. The opposition should be aware that rhetoric is an insufficient means of tackling problems on the scale of proposed social security reforms and the public deficit, and that the public will not fall for its theatrics. The recent decision by Ecofin, the European Union’s finance ministers, confirming the Greek economy’s stability and its decision not to impose any further monitoring measures consolidates the Greek government’s reassurances regarding a boost in initiatives supporting disadvantaged citizens. It would be extremely easy for the government to slow down its reform program in order to avert further tension. But it would be better for the country if PASOK were to awaken to the responsibilities befitting an opposition party when fixing the national economy is at stake.