To sign or not to sign? Is that even the right question?

Politicians are famous for their ability to maneuver with agility through uncharted waters. Their self-preservation mechanism is known to kick in,  allowing them to reach a compromise in order to stay in the game of politics.

Taking a rigid stance on an issue that is not only unwinnable but in fact sabotages the end game for an entire country is not only un-political it’s irresponsible and dangerous.

Antonis Samaras has made the issue of his signature on the agreements of the bailout package one of national pride. He repeats that he will not sign. The more he repeats it, the more the European partners lose faith that he will abide by the agreements if his party is elected in the early February elections 2012.

They answer monotonously: “No signature, no money.”

So now it has come to that. The team of advisers Samaras brought in when he won the position of leader of ND, are divided. They say, “He must draw the line somewhere. He must not sign, because this will be humiliating for Greece’s national pride.” Another group of them, sensing the dead-end of this position, are hinting that he will find a face-saving formula because he is above all a “Patriot.”

Much can be said about the origin and history of Greece’s financial woes. Blame is being cast right and left creating a sense of anger, disillusionment and animosity among the citizens. What is most alarming though, is that this irrational, overly emotional game that Antonis Samaras is playing is distracting the new government and the people from the true end game, which is the sink or swim reality facing them in the next several months, and years.

So while, Samaras keeps fighting with his “patriotic” self, the union members of the electric company have taken over the IT building and will not allow the tax collection to be processed and the lights to be turned off to the households refusing to pay the bills. However, controversial the measure should the electric union be dictating policy and chosing what is and what is not lawful? In additon, the ensuing chaos is sending more Greeks to court to contest the legality of the tax. All this is encouraged, tolarated and inflammed, by political posturing over non-existent dilemmas.

It may be proven in the long run that perhaps Greece should have gone bankrupt on day 1 or this crisis or pulled out willingly from the euro before borrowing money from their partners. It may be that in the end Europe itself will be too weak to withstand centrifugal forces that want to go back to early 20th century states. It may also be proven that the current financial system has outlived its days.

In the meantime, however, Greece has officially chosen a path based on a series of rational choices. It wants to stay in the Euro, it wants to rebuild and become a strong member of the EU. It has formed a union government to implement the measures necessary to move forward. Just a few weeks ago, this was the topic of debate. If New Democracy did not believe in this particular route for weathering the storm and getting out of the crisis, it should not have agreed to a coalition government.

What Greece needs, at the moment,  is a sharp focus on the chosen path. By second guessing the strategy and creating unnecessary obstacles the country is just unproductively spinning its wheels. Much reform is necessary in Greece. Policies to encourage growth are also needed to get back on track. What is not needed is misguided political populism under the cloak of patriotism.

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