OPINION

Wrong address

It was 7.40 p.m. on Wednesday, tiredness and tension had already begun to take their toll. As I waited for the prime minister’s public address, an alternative message reached my ears. «We are facing an extremely difficult situation and I feel that I have to address you all today and ask for your support in the difficult months that will follow. First of all, I am forced to announce a number of measures to clamp down on tax evasion and to curb public spending, which will be painful but necessary. There is no other choice. They are not popular measures and they may well damage my ratings in the coming opinion polls. But I do not mind, because I am currently responsible for governing this place. And I believe that you also realize that this is the path of responsibility. Some are trying to guide the country to early elections. I will not yield to pressure and I cannot drag this place into an adventure before we have finished our job on the economy, public order and structural changes. Furthermore, I have decided on a broad reshuffle, assigning key posts to the most successful ministers and technocrats. I know I run the risk of losing parliamentary majority because of in-party reactions. The path of responsibility is a lonely one. Perhaps it’s the price I have to pay for the mistakes I made over the past few years. I wish George Papandreou could join me on this path after agreeing on the main changes this country needs. But, unfortunately, this is not feasible.» I woke up from the speech that never was and looked around. All I saw were faces from a distant socialist past, tacky fiestas, arrogant sound bites and dangerous fireworks about how a bankrupt state will go about re-nationalizing OTE telecom, Emporiki bank and so on. I also saw a premier describing the state of the nation as if he had not been premier for the past six years. I don’t want to be harsh as I can imagine what it means being PM in a country like Greece. However, I realize that we must choose between a man who has understood too late and a man who has yet to grasp the gravity of the situation.