Time for some risk taking

Analysts the world over agree that you can never know what might happen when it comes to politics; even less so in Greece. Whatever the prime minister was planning has certainly changed since the destructive wildfires of the weekend and it is obvious that calling early elections in the fall is now out of the question. On the other hand, the world of politics marches to the beat of its own ceaseless drum, giving little time to regroup from the horrible experience of the fires or to digest new political information. The show must go on and Costas Karamanlis’s next major appointment with the public is scheduled for Thessaloniki in just a few days. People will remember his rather unfortunate appearance last year and will be in no mood to forgive another mishap. In effect, Karamanlis has another five months of real political time until the inescapable elections of early 2010 and it doesn’t look like there will be any pleasant surprises in store for him in this period, other than in the area of social security reform which seems to be making some headway. Most of his ministers suggest a bold «structural» reshuffle; he is troubled and seems not to want to make any drastic moves before the International Fair in Thessaloniki. He knows that by sacrificing some very close allies (such as Theodoros Roussopoulos and Giorgos Alogoskoufis), any reshuffle would concern his last surviving allies. The past year has shown us that Karamanlis can make bold decisions when the pressure mounts, though he does tend to worry about them up until the final hour. What is certain is that if he doesn’t make any moves until the fair or at least right after, the next five months will pass by very slowly and painfully. And then, adios. As the sage politician Constantine Karamanlis once said, «The greatest risk is not taking any risks.»