OPINION

Early elections

Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s decision to bring forward the launch of the pre-election period is obviously due to the crucial municipal elections coming in October. According to opinion polls, the socialist PASOK party is lagging behind New Democracy by eight percentage points… Simitis’s policy of extensive handouts and hirings is expected to peak in the time remaining until the next parliamentary elections. Furthermore, in view of his party’s impending electoral defeat, the continuing sense of paralysis – and the lack of courage in tackling major problems, such as structural changes, the social security issue, and tax reform – will intensify. On top of these gloomy predictions, it should be noted that the government’s record so far is a poor one because of party problems during the first two years… In view of these circumstances and future prospects, the most beneficial solution for Greece, and most likely for Simitis as well, would be to bring forward the parliamentary elections, an exclusive privilege of the prime minister of the time. A political leader ought to call early elections not only when he is convinced that he will win them (a right that Simitis has already exercised by bringing elections forward six months in April 2000), but also when he realizes that he is unable to honor his public mandate.