The New Democracy party begins deliberations at its eighth congress today, at a time when the country needs a strong and level-headed opposition more than ever before. However, the conservatives have a long way to go before they can convince the people that ND is in any position to govern the country once more. For it to reach that point, it first needs to start speaking in realistic political terms. It also needs to draw capable technocrats into the party ranks and design a policy-specific program. In recent months, party chief Antonis Samaras has been behaving much like Prime Minister George Papandreou did when PASOK was in opposition. Instead of preparing the groundwork so that if and when the day comes that New Democracy is again elected to power it will be able to take over the reins, Samaras is expending his energies on generating talk of early elections and shooting down every reform proposal the government has to offer. The country finds itself at a critical juncture and it will not get through this stormy period of austerity with the opposition’s style of politics.