What does the country need?

What does the country need? The answer is on everyone’s lips regardless of their party affiliation or political preference. In a fast-changing world, the country’s forces must mobilize behind a long-term and ambitious reform plan, a national strategy aimed at reversing the signs of decline and bolstering growth. It’s a daunting task fraught with large obstacles. Until now, large and small interests have managed to survive thanks to a state that is a profligate spender and borrower and thanks to the injection of four Marshall Plan-like aid packages known as the Community Support Frameworks. When George Papandreou took over the helm of the PASOK party from Costas Simitis, he promised a radical overhaul. He said that PASOK would pursue a vibrant, reformist agenda; that it would promote a robust, cohesive society that would be able to thrive in a modern, competitive global environment. Unfortunately, the new PASOK leader has not lived up to his commitments. In fact, he is taking steps in the other direction. Instead of supporting the conservative government’s campaign toward reform, more and more voices within the Socialist opposition are calling for statist measures. Instead of calling for the further liberalization of private initiative, they want to reward stagnation. Instead of backing measures to boost production, they demand short-term handouts. Papandreou, a political leader with a firm grasp of global trends and of what needs to be done in Greece, had made a promising start. It would be a shame if he found himself trapped in the cycle of populism and easy promises. The country needs a robust opposition, a party with vision, a dynamic political program and pragmatic, carefully studied policies. When Papandreou takes the podium at the Thessaloniki Trade Fair, people will expect to hear about what he would do if he were premier rather than cheap, vacuous promises.

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