Unexpected ally

Giorgos Papaconstantinou, the finance minister in Greece’s Socialist government, is gradually turning into something of a precious ally for the conservative opposition party and the right in general. The country’s conservative voters can only welcome his transformation. No one really expected that Papaconstantinou would have the capability to politically negotiate the economic crisis that is dogging Greece due to its structural failures – and which only became more prominent after the country joined the European Economic Community in 1980, before eventually becoming a member of the common currency area, the eurozone. Papaconstantinou’s lack of political capital resulted in his signing of the memorandum on behalf of the Greek government with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. Similarly, it is the failure of the ministry – and also his personal failure – that widespread corruption has not been curbed. As a result came the farce of the tax amnesty, while other ministers succeeded in implementing certain government policies that were extremely unpopular among segments of the electorate. Surprisingly, Papaconstantinou has managed to fail in the only sector where PASOK has really excelled over the past years: propaganda. Intoxicated by his (supposed) success in negotiating the IMF deal, Papaconstantinou did not hesitate to point a finger at former Premier Costas Karamanlis after Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker said that a Greek prime minister had told him he was in charge of a «corrupt country.» Officials subsequently said Juncker was actually referring to the incumbent premier. Papaconstantinou’s attempt, during a meeting of Parliament’s economic affairs committee, to link any apology for his misleading statement with one from Mr Karamanlis for his own failings was met with indifference by PASOK deputies. The finance minister should be feeling increasingly isolated within his own party. This is nothing to feel sorry about. Evaluating his performance is the job of the prime minister. But ND can be pleased about finding an unexpected ally in the figure of Papaconstantinou. Politics is the realm of the absurd.

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