Political soothsayers

The usual response to political uncertainty is stubborn speculation of a government reshuffle or early elections. Both scenarios have dominated the agenda since late June. The extensive shake-up of the ruling conservative Cabinet, widely predicted after New Democracy’s defeat at the recent European elections, never took place. Despite inside recommendations, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis failed to see where his true interests lie, as it were. So now there is talk of early elections. PASOK leader George Papandreou has been demanding snap polls, claiming the need to rid the country of the government’s «maladministration,» as he says. It’s a naive approach, of course, but we have grown used to Greek politicians trading allegations of lack of patriotism, mismanagement, criminal ineptness or corruption. Fortunately, the political system is capable of surviving its poor representatives. Nevertheless, what is interesting about the recent speculation about early elections is that it often originates from the ruling conservatives themselves, from all sorts of unlikely cadres who claim to enjoy access to the party’s higher echelons. But such speculation hardly makes any sense. Karamanlis has no reason to call snap polls nor to give in to Papandreou’s demand at a time when the stance of his political rival on the issue of next March’s presidential election has divided the Socialist opposition. Moreover, ND is trailing PASOK in opinion polls and calling elections in September or October would be an act of political suicide. Interestingly, those who have been criticizing the premier’s supposed idleness are the same people who are now interpreting his measures against illegal migration or farmer handouts as signs of early elections. In other words, the very demand is sweeping Karamanlis from power. That too will happen at some point. Everything in life comes to an end but not at the time set by the various readers of omens in our political life.