Orphaned middle ground

It will be some time before we really know whether Greece is turning to the Left, whether Alexis Tsipras is a phenomenon or merely a communications coup and whether the Left is seeing a rise in popularity because it has touched the pulse of society or because PASOK no longer cuts the mustard. What we do know is that the country needs people to protest, but it also needs people to govern. We are seeing a sequence of events these days that may deeply affect political life. The Communist Party (KKE) is feeling the breath of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) on its neck and will protest increasingly more vigorously in order to make an impression. PASOK is also feeling the pressure from Tsipras and is trying to stem defections to him by adopting a more leftist stance. Meanwhile, the center is bereft of representation. This is the segment of society which understands that our universities cannot keep operating as they are, that sees the need for certain major reforms. PASOK chief George Papandreou could easily win over this segment of society if he simply allowed himself to be himself and put forward his own reform proposals. Instead, he chooses to lash out against the government. So, the middle ground is obliged to watch Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis proceed with just three or four reforms, and even these in makeshift fashion. In desperation, the middle ground is beginning to realize that the center-right does not really believe in its own reforms, either because it is too frightened of public opinion, or because it has never paused to think why it was ever interested in returning to power. If the center-right has no vision to offer and the center-left has forgotten how to win over the middle class, it is only natural for voters to look for something new. And there, in their frantic search for someone who can govern, they find the perennial protesters.