A risky stagnation in Greek politics

The world of Greek politics is in a state of stagnation, according to recent opinion polls and surveys. This stagnation favors the government and prime minister, who can see that they continue to predominate on the political stage without having to make any particular effort and without facing any great threat from the chief opposition party. Regardless of the mistakes that have been made, of the revelations of nepotism and of the crises – both real and invented – that have been analyzed to death on the evening news bulletins, the hegemony of Costas Karamanlis and his ruling New Democracy does not appear to be at risk, at least until the next four-year term. The bad thing is that the government and its cadres appear to making it increasingly clear that their chief concern is holding onto power after the next elections. This is an ambition every government is entitled to have but can be destructive when it becomes an end in itself and the sole criterion of the administration’s policy. Officially, we are 13 months away from general elections, a long time for nothing of note to occur on the political stage. But recently the government’s «action» has been limited to ministers’ assessments of when the elections should be held if the much-desired second four-year term is to be secured by ND. But this second term should be born of correct governance and the implementation of the right policies in tackling society’s chronic problems and not simply choosing «the lesser of two evils.» After all, those proposing early elections are basing their assessment upon the negative image of PASOK in opinion polls, an element that would guarantee ND’s prevalence at the polls. Meanwhile, the government cadres do not appear to be concerned – or to be preparing themselves – for governing the country or implementing solutions to serious problems; they have simply postponed major concerns – such as social security reform – until the next four-year term. One would expect the government to use its advantage to speed up its work and push through with much-needed reforms. Instead, a general sense of complacency prevails, invariably encouraged by the pathetic image of the main opposition party. PASOK’s most recent internal crisis – provoked by veteran deputy Theodoros Pangalos’s calls for police to be allowed access to university campuses – has revealed the extent of the opposition party’s problems. PASOK chief George Papandreou criticized Pangalos and dismissed another MP for angering his party’s grass roots. But such obtuseness and buck passing is inadvisable, particularly as it is most likely the same government that will remain in power.