Conclusions from the polls

Last Sunday’s local elections showed an impressive rebound for the conservatives and a significant number of former Communist Party (KKE) voters who had been drawn to the ruling PASOK party returning to the KKE fold, while also confirming that Premier George Papandreou’s government is steadily on its way out. The biggest losers in the polls for local government were those in the prime minister’s inner circle of reformists, led first and foremost by its most vocal proponents, Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou and multitasking minister Yiannis Ragousis, currently at the helm of the Interior Ministry. Their political survival is doubtful, not because their policies were too harsh regarding certain social groups, but because they displayed arrogance and unbelievable amateurism. The fate of the «reformist circle» that surrounds the premier is of no interest to anyone other than PASOK officials. Greece will not disappear as a state because the PASOK government may be voted out in an election, something that may very well take place within a short period of time. The opposite may actually be the case – in that the state may be saved – because, though the conservatives may often fall short politically, insofar as the other parties do as well, it is not in the grips of the kind of supercilious attitude that lies behind so many tragic mistakes. Moreover, PASOK’s advantage over the opposition of having «know-how» has proved nonexistent over the course of its year in power. Misled by naivete and passion, the team surrounding the prime minister overstated the dire condition of the economy when it took over from New Democracy and did so in such a clumsy manner as to seriously undermine the country’s creditworthiness and force it to agree to the bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union to a memorandum that is, in effect, impracticable apart from cutting public servant salaries and retirement pensions. The result of the government’s poor performance has been that the reformists are now beginning to vindicate New Democracy chief Antonis Samaras, who argued that the rescue plan did not make sense for Greece and voted against the memorandum but supported the majority of the draft laws submitted by the government concerning structural changes. Such are the paradoxes of politics.

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