Even as the region grows increasingly unstable and Greece needs to stick to a stable course, our country suddenly finds itself in the middle of a political and economic storm, for no serious reason. When the economy and politics are mixed, the result is never good. The great possibility of parliamentary elections in a few months, if this parliament cannot elect a president of the republic, has provoked behavior by the government and official opposition which is as dangerous as it is predictable. Both are acting in such haste that they cannot make a calm appraisal of the situation inside Greece and beyond our borders and act accordingly.
The government’s haste to prove that Greece is emerging from the crisis, that it has no need for further support (and supervision) from the troika, that it can borrow freely on the international markets, coincided with a general wariness of the European economy. The result was a crash on the Athens Stock Exchange, while the cost of borrowing rocketed to unsupportable heights. The government wanted to make a convincing show of leading Greece with a sure and stable hand; it is now paying for its haste by having to accept strongly worded support by the European Commission and the European Central Bank, whose interventions calmed markets somewhat. What is the government’s strategy now? Most likely the patience it did not show earlier.
The only good that could come out of the past few days (if experience had not made us cynics) is that perhaps SYRIZA, too, would come to understand that its own haste for elections and its intention to impose its will on the markets and on our creditors might not lead to the desired result. SYRIZA bases its strategy on saying that it wants to keep Greece in the eurozone and the European Union while telling our partners to accept our demands. In this way, if its strategy fails, it can always complain that “it’s not our fault, it’s the others who are to blame.” This is a fine argument for teenagers wailing about life’s injustices, but not for a party which bases its political support mainly on the promise that it will relieve citizens of the consequences of the crisis. If it fails, it will not get away with blaming others.
But perhaps the greatest danger lies not in what the next government will do but in whether there will be a government with enough support to be able to deal with the country’s problems. Our neighbor Bulgaria shows how dangerous things can become: It has been in a state of political instability for the past 18 months, with four governments unable to govern, and with the elections of October 5 again showing a fragmented political system with no party looking strong enough to be the core of a functional coalition. This should be a signal to our own parties that they should already be looking at the formation of functional post-election cooperation among like-minded groupings – and not thinking that a leap into the void constitutes a strategy.