Not a protest vote

A government’s strength does not depend on the share of the vote with which it is elected. Rather, it depends on the degree of confidence its supporters have in it, as well as the degree of tolerance its opponents display. Especially during periods like the present one – that is periods calling for brave political decisions – public confidence in or tolerance of the ruling party is a basic requirement for the implementation or imposition of government policies. In this light, the deep disaffection of the voters of the two main parties – as reflected in a poll published in the Sunday Kathimerini – comprises a very negative development. Some 78 percent said they are mostly or completely dissatisfied with PASOK, while 70 percent expressed a similar discontent with New Democracy. Mistrust over the prospect of ND coming to power was also a negative finding. Asked whether a conservative party would do a better job of tackling current problems, 28.7 percent gave a positive answer, 40.4 percent said that it would do no better than the ruling Socialists, and 23.9 believe it would actually do worse. This lack of confidence in the two main parties may be justified in respect to PASOK, reflecting a negative judgment over the ruling party’s performance. But it seems unfair for ND, which has been out of power for the last nine years. Hence ND should be deeply concerned, given the prospect of its likely victory in the coming elections. A protest vote against the rival party does not elect a strong government. A vote should reflect approval of a clear-cut and comprehensive program. ND has to persuade the public that its central goal is not a victory based on a reluctant and fluctuating public mandate but, rather, efficient and beneficial governance. Voters do not care whether ND will become government; they are interested in the way it will govern.