The day after

Late tomorrow Greece’s electoral map will be finalized and party officials will be assessing their gains and losses – parading on television windows to highlight the former and downgrade the latter in the public eye. At some point, however, political evaluations and comments will fade and our political life will have to turn the page. If there is one thing that can be said with certainty, it is that the municipal and regional elections will not radically upset the political scene. The results of the first round and the forecasts for the outcome of the runoff vote indicate that New Democracy will gain fresh ground. But it will fall short of achieving a sweeping victory that would give it the air of a party which is on its way to power. The fragile equilibrium that has existed until now will be maintained, even though the conservative opposition clearly has more chances to prevail at the next parliamentary elections. The crucial question which will emerge as of Monday is the extent to which the new electoral power balance will affect government policy. Notably, there is already some pressure to loosen economic policy in order to mitigate public discontent, especially in areas where the Socialist party suffered its greatest losses. Greece, however, has clearly left behind the climate and the political habits of the post-1974 period and has entered a new phase. EMU accession not only marked a victory in terms of economic indices and a victory in rehabilitating the economy. It actually meant something more profound for civic life. Greece is unquestionably changing for the better. It would be naive to ignore the effect of the vote on government policy, but after the ballots have been reshelved, the government should focus again on achieving its goals. Progress has never been linear, and it will never be. Vested interests and reactionary mentalities put the brakes on progress. For this reason, the government must not succumb to the populist temptations that resurfaced after the municipal and regional elections. The new era leaves no room for improvisation and frivolous thinking. A smooth transformation that will allow our society to prosper in the highly competitive environment of the European Union is a national duty that should not be undermined by narrow-minded political expediency.