OPINION

Avoiding the hard stuff

Until a few weeks ago, government cadres were classified according to their preferred election date, namely June or October. Though Costas Karamanlis did mumble something about his intention to complete the conservatives’ four-year term, most considered his words more of a platitude. Media speculation about snap polls has been rife, affecting the government’s performance. The premier finally decided to do something about this. Now New Democracy ministers, one after the other, are saying in public that policymaking comes above everything else. The problem is that the timing of the polls affects what the prime minister means by policymaking and, more specifically, his reform rhetoric. Reason dictates that – under certain circumstances – October would be the most favorable election period for ND. But the truth is that, regardless of when polls are actually held, the country is – unofficially – already in a pre-election period. That would explain the government’s tendency to shy away from the hard stuff. ND avoids any serious confrontation that could drain its political force. The government’s effort to reform university education is a special case. It has spawned protests from academics, but it is backed by voters as well as Socialist opposition leader George Papandreou. After all, there was no room for postponing changes for the next four-year term as a constitutional revision would require approval by the current as well as the new parliament. From the very beginning Karamanlis made clear that his main goal was to win a second term. He wants to bury the nightmare of the notorious «ND interval» that has haunted the party since Constantine Mitsotakis’s premature end in 1993. So Karamanlis stayed clear of hot potatoes like social security reform, though his aides say the premier will tackle these in his second term.