The anxiety of the ‘right-wing break’

It is a global rule that all governments are corrupted after exercising power for a certain period of time. Some administrations cause disappointment, others outrage or alienation. In the overwhelming majority of cases, a dramatic development may have a negative influence on a government but does not generally bring about its collapse before the end of the four-year term. It is typical of Greece that the defeated party started putting bets on the date of the government’s collapse on the day after the general elections in 2004. And every time reality would belie expectations, PASOK cadres would start criticizing their leader George Papandreou and yearning for his departed father and party founder Andreas. And so the notion of the «right-wing break» was created and subsequently dominated political life. The funny thing is that both the government and the opposition are driven by this concept – the government due to its eagerness to refute it and the opposition due to its desire to confirm it. This was made evident by the fact that the government did everything to avoid clashes with established structures and interests in order to secure a better innings than the government of Constantine Mitsotakis in the early 1990s. Meanwhile, PASOK is measuring the tiniest fluctuations in opinion polls and solemnly declaring that a half-a-percentage-point shift in favor of the opposition signifies the public’s disapproval for some government decision or other. For the first time, parties have started using statistics in the political game. Also for the first time, a rather predictable outcome of polls is being presented as something remarkable. The government is jubilating despite its evident decline because this decline is less dramatic than the notion of the «right-wing parenthesis» would have it. At the same time PASOK is unhappy for these exact same reasons. The problem with public debate in Greece to date is that it has been limited to an analysis of the political landscape. Since the first round of the municipal elections last week, however, the analysis has focused on a virtual political landscape, namely the political map, which has not changed much at all.