OPINION

Inertia no longer an option

There are those who believe that the government could bounce back and put up a good fight in national elections. They are not basing their analysis on a simplistic tally of the European elections, as arithmetic does not take into account the feelings, dynamics and other unforeseeable factors that influence electoral outcomes. The people who believe this are New Democracy party cadres trying to convince the prime minister not to make any changes. They are the same people who failed to see the fear of the middle class last December as it saw Athens go up in flames. And with the pussyfooting on public order and the excessive caution to avoid any political cost, the ultra-nationalist LAOS party was able to lead the government by the nose on issues of major importance. If Costas Karamanlis had any strength, he would be able to brush these people aside and surround himself with those who pressure him for change, propose new ideas and are in touch with reality. Otherwise, he will remain trapped in an atmosphere created by those advisers who insist that no decision should be made in haste. There are many things Karamanlis can do to reverse the current negative climate. One would be to hire new spin doctors to help the party improve its image and communication skills; another would be to appoint one person with sole responsibility for public order; specific action could be taken without hesitation on matters pertaining to illegal migration and national security; a single ministry of the environment could be set up despite the opposition that can be expected; while measures could also be taken to narrow the public deficit before it is too late. However, would these steps be enough to win an election or come in second by a slim margin? In politics, as in life, there are no guarantees. What is guaranteed is that if Karamanlis and New Democracy do not begin reacting soon, the chances of a comeback will become much slimmer. Inertia, as attractive as some make it out to be, is no longer an option.