Greece faces a very tricky conundrum. The old guard of the country’s mainstream parties — in other words some 90 percent of PASOK and New Democracy politicians — are being called upon to implement painful albeit essential reforms which, firstly, they have little or no idea about; secondly, which hit their political or business acolytes hard; and thirdly, which will eventually bring about an end to the kind of politician which they represent.
As an experienced politician was saying the other day, “in the past we used to give away handouts; now we only give away sorrows.”
The question is, how can we expect these people to do what it takes to overcome the lingering crisis? It’s only natural that they procrastinate and try to shirk the hard stuff.
Perhaps it’s time we understood that what we are asking for is simply beyond the power and the capacity of Greece’s political officials. Pressure from the country’s international creditors to carry out structural reforms and avoid default is enormous and the obstacles are extremely complex. Homegrown politicians are afraid of bringing about a premature end to their political careers.
If Greece’s politicians possessed a stronger survival instinct and some more wisdom, they would realize that it’s time to call an end to the political game. PASOK’s socialists are too exhausted and the conservatives of New Democracy are simply not yet ready to manage what is at stake here. This is something they do not like; they get upset too easily.
A more mature political system would quickly reach consensus on a minimum set of measures and reforms. They would appoint a government of experienced individuals who could steer the nation out of the crisis. There are people out there who are capable of doing what needs to be done — as long as our political parties do not instead appoint some mediocre yes-men.
If our politicians were to get on with this simple but necessary measure, they might disappoint their mercenaries but they would ensure the survival of the current political system on the day after.
Our politicians should have no delusions. If this crisis sends the country over the edge of the cliff, none of them will survive for voting for one measure or another.
About the author
Mr. Alexis Papachelas is the Executive Editor of the long standing and highly respected daily Greek newspaper “Kathimerini”. He is the creator and principal presenter of the weekly news program “The New Files” aired in Greece for 10 consecutive seasons. He has been awarded a number of distinctions both on his broadcast as well as his print contributions. He studied History, International Relations and Journalism at Bard College and Columbia University in the United States.
Papachelas is the author of the books “The Rape of Greek Democracy” (1997) and “File November 17” (2002).