Greece breathed a sigh of relief, on Tuesday, the 21st of February. It’s 130 billion euro bailout package would go through and the terms of the PSI were agreed upon. The country will stay in the euro, but the austerity measures and the implementation of the program will not be easy to stomach and enforce.
April or May elections are still on the table and though the polls show the two leading parties having under 20% each, there is hope that now with the bailout package approved, perhaps they will have some time to regroup and stop the left from a staggering increase in voter support.
PASOK will be electing a new party leader soon and it will most likely be Evangelos Venizelos, the current Finance Minister who has the gravitas to hold a large part of the party together and now has become very familiar with what EU members are demanding that Greece do.
New Democracy, took two prominent members of the far right and welcomed them to their ranks, in the hopes that LAOS would be disolved by election time and absorbed by them. According to journalists they now want to recruit some PASOK parliamentarians who have taken a more conservative/patriotic stance in this debate and still support the bailout efforts.
I don’t believe that elections should take place early because I worry about the left’s unpredictable rise. There are those, however, who think that it will allow for a more sober assessment of the situation. That is will lead to a government who will focus on nothing but the work at hand to jumpstart the economy. They feel that everyone is exhausted from the protracted instability and fear of losing it all and getting kicked out of the euro. This will give the system a chance to reboot.
Recycling old actors under different party banners, however, is not my view of change but realistically nothing original is gelling in Greece at the moment. Getting the strategic positioning right, the appropriate tone of the rhetoric, the message, the vision is going to be a challenge for those in support of the period of adjustment which runs through a long time of austerity and hardship.
Greece needs a strong centrist party and right now, the center-right of New Democracy has shifted too far to the right and it’s leadership is not centrist at all. PASOK is too worn out and is a product of clientelism, union politics, public sector jobs and internal dichotomies.
It is not clear how things will work out, but there will be a lot of mobility right and left of the spectrum. One thing is the most important, however: not to lose sight of the fact that we have now committed to a path and these parties that signed off on it must convince the electorate of its importance and viability. This will not be easy. Greeks are reactionary as a people and they may chose – even in their infinite wisdom as a public- to shoot themselves in the foot, in order to bring down those they think responsible for their current plight.
Greece has a bumpy road ahead and will need adroit maneuvering to come out a winner.