The absence of an opposition

The Greek government is alert and promptly implements its program only under pressure from the opposition. If the opposition does not rise to the occasion and offers no alternative solutions to problems, the government is less productive and forgets its promises to the people. As long as Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis does not feel PASOK leader George Papandreou in hot pursuit, he will rely on his public opinion poll lead and not pressure his ministers to expedite reforms. If PASOK were a serious opposition force – and if its leader, instead of indulging in populism, strenuously criticized the government and proposed specific measures for faster development, upgrading and modernizing education, and stamping out tax evasion and corruption – the government would strive to get results in those sectors. The decline of the main opposition party (whose leader declares he is proud of the achievements of Costas Simitis’s government when voters rejected that government on March 7, 2004) is a sad development for a great democratic party and above all a misfortune for Greece. Without vigorous opposition the government will put off reforms for pressing issues such as education and social security for another four years. There is little hope that the opposition might get serious by the next elections as sources say Papandreou is abandoning all plans for change and reform to focus on handouts. The road to hell is always paved with good intentions. With a similar policy of handouts based on loans, PASOK put the country in debt and taxpayers now fork out 10 billion euros interest a year to foreign financiers.