A new tenure

Costas Karamanlis’s biggest challenge, for himself and his party, since coming to power has been to win a second consecutive term. The specter of New Democracy’s defeat in 1993, then led by Constantine Mitsotakis, has haunted the new leader. Karamanlis had to prove that his rule was not just a brief spell in long-running Socialist hegemony. Virtually all polls agree that ND will win a comfortable victory, particularly if a vote is held by September. That said, the conservatives should harbor no illusions. The election will be won mainly thanks to PASOK’s incompetence rather than ND’s achievements. Some steps have indeed been taken, especially on the economy, but Greece’s state has far from changed. PASOK’s poor political discourse and its lack of convincing proposals as well as George Papandreou’s return to the old, populist guard have prevented the opposition from making gains in the so-called middle ground and capturing that crucial 2-3 percent of swing voters. Moreover, most voters have not forgotten PASOK’s record of corruption. Winning a second term may be great news for Karamanlis and the conservative nomenclature (and profitable, too), but there’s no guarantee it will also be good for the country. In fact, it could also be bad for the country. Just think of Costas Simitis’s second tenure. To avoid a repeat of that sad precedent, Karamanlis must rule in a more dynamic and decisive manner. He should start by announcing a 100-day action plan to implement the necessary reforms. The Greek premier may well imitate France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and staff his administration with talented executives. Karamanlis will get nowhere with a government like the current one where politicians busy themselves with caring for their party cronies.

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