Lone wolves

The government’s education reform package lost its momentum after the first wave of negative reaction to it. What has resulted is a compromise proposal destined to fall well short of solving the outstanding problems, even if it manages to get passed in the autumn. But why did the government’s ambitious reform plans end up in an uneasy compromise? It is because the government showed cowardice; instead of taking a decisive and forward-looking stance, it showed that it consists of nothing more than frightened party hacks that shy away from the first sign of conflict. Marietta Giannakou, the education minister, deserves no credit for backing down, of course. Stepping down would have been a more appropriate response. The truth is, however, that in this battle, she was alone. None of her conservative peers who parade on television windows came out in her defense. Was it that they disagreed with the measures? No; otherwise they would have voted down the proposals in the party vote months ago. It’s just that all these senior cadres determined that they did not have a dog in this fight. Everyone from Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Dimitris Sioufas to Giorgos Souflias and Evangelos Meimarakis ducked the challenge, not because they did not have an opinion but because they felt the potato was too hot to handle. I have never seen a government whose members are so lacking in solidarity with one another. ND ministers are each treading their own paths like lone wolves. No one backed Pavlopoulos in his «main shareholder» battle and no one backed Alogoskoufis after he called for deficit revision; in fact, both were undermined inside the Cabinet. Similarly, Giannakou’s troubles have caused little but schadenfreude. With such attitudes, ND cannot expect to win coming battles such as over social security reform.

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