All the premier’s men

A number of people, some in Prime Minister George Papandreou’s inner circle, view the government as they would a ship heading at speed for the rocks. They see a government that has taken on an incredibly difficult task, with many completely wrong people in important posts and a premier that seems unwilling to make changes to his Cabinet or government. A Cabinet reshuffle is certainly no easy matter. Papandreou, for example, cannot really use people who are outside the parliamentary group nor can he pick old cadres from his party without jeopardizing the passage of important legislation. Or, rather, to do so, he would have to sacrifice some of his so-called «princes,» which is how the party’s old guard refers to those ministers who have not had to suffer the hardship of election and real hard work. Nevertheless, there are certainly alternatives, both inside and outside the party. The country needs people in government who can tell the difference between opportunistic professional groups and entrepreneurship and who can make an educated guess as to what any given decision by a bureaucrat or an adviser will mean in practice. The country also needs politicians who will desist for two or three years at least from counting the number of votes a measure may cost them and who will be less occupied with pulling the wool over the EU and IMF’s eyes by advocating phony reforms. There is no more time to waste however and it may be that the prime minister is beginning to suffer from that strange ego disease that seems to afflict every resident of the Maximos Mansion, namely the «I won’t do what they tell me, I won’t yield to pressure» syndrome. This syndrome is aggravated by those who, for their own reasons, like to cultivate a bunker mentality. «So-and-so is putting pressure on us, Prime Minister» or «The time is not ripe for a reshuffle, George,» are just some of the usual lines. Obviously those who use them don’t want to see any change and are either worried about losing their cushy niche or concerned that someone more capable than them is waiting in the wings. The bottom line is this: Those who argue that a bold reshuffle by Papandreou would be tantamount to an admission of failure would do well to ask him whether he prefers the admission now or failure in the fall.