“The course will not be easy,” Papademos said. “But the problems, I’m convinced, will be solved. They will be solved faster, with a smaller cost and in an efficient way, if there is unity, agreement and prudence.”
After days and days of politicking Greece set its best foot forward. It chose a Prime Minister who served as vice-president in the ECB for eight years and understands how the economy works. He is respected by Greeks and Europeans alike and finally the country can breathe just a bit more easily while people await the details of the formation of the new coalition government.
Will he be able to make a difference? He can, if the parties understand that he was not chosen to be a scapegoat: the last euro PM and the first PM to return Greece to the drachma. He needs to be supported by all the parties as well as the public because there is no quick fix to this mess.
Perhaps the country will be thanking George Karatzaferis the head of the LAOS party, for this turn of events. If he had not raised hell by being asked to wait alone in the President’s foyer, PASOK and New Democracy may have chosen the President of Parliament whom parliamentarians across the spectrum did not deem appropriate for the job. It was a move to ensure that the two big parties maintained control of the situation. Thankfully their actions were thwarted.
Karatzaferis who is characterized by a certain dramatic political flare, had insisted from the start that the new PM should have the gravitas to be accepted and “trusted” to a larger extent by Greece’s EU partners. He had suggested Papademos from the outset. Who knows if they actually ignored him or he found an opportunity to wreak havoc to the process and overturn a decision that would have failed anyway.
The fact that about 50 parliamentarians also reacted to the initial choice and threatened to resign also shows that the political world and the public have high expectations and demand higher standards.
In crises like these there are no heroes and no magic wand that can be used to solve the problems overnight. Today, Greeks are feeling relief but their daily problems will come back to the fore as soon as the new government is sworn in.
The next step is for this government not only to be credible in total but to insist on law and order. The left has been trying to incite the people to riot not only protest. They see this crisis as an opportunity to gain large numbers at the polls in the upcoming elections which will probably take place in the spring. The country must not sink into chaos once again. It is hard enough to go through the austerity. If it is compounded with the impossibility of getting to work, strikes, and riots then this moment of relief and reserved hope will be lost.
Desperation is the worst outcome. Greece needs to take a deep breath and look at the problems with patience, compassion and optimism for a positive outcome in the nearest possible future.