Dragging the country down
Ayear-and-a-half has gone by since Prime Minister George Papandreou posed the dramatic dilemma “We change or we sink.” And while people have experienced violent change and many others have realized that they can’t sail new seas in old boats, those who ought to have been setting an example – that is the people who govern this country – continue their business as usual, as they always have. Obviously the premier’s edict, despite its urgent tone, failed to shake his ministers or move the political elites of other parties. They saw it as just another summons that concerns merely the oarsmen of the galley, rather than themselves, the captain or the officers, who they believe have the right to continue doing things as they and their predecessors have always done when they steer the nation’s ship onto the rocks. For a year-and-a-half the government has been looking for rudimentary coordination, which appears harder to find than intelligent life in other galaxies, even though the prime minister has special people assigned to this particular task. The delay, for example, with which the government responded to reports in the Spiegel Online website which suggested that Greece was considering returning to the drachma reveals that it is politically catatonic. For a year-and-a-half the government has announced “major infrastructure projects,” such as at Astakos and Elliniko, that would boost growth and provide jobs, even though it has had nothing in writing, or even in mind for that matter. For a year-and-a-half it has presented Parliament with half-baked laws that are withdrawn or amended as soon as they provoke any negative reactions. For a year-and-a-half the Cabinet has been substituted by the prime minister’s “famous friends,” who are turning out to be a lot less altruistic or wise than initially presented. For a year-and-a-half, infighting, personal campaigns and rivalries have rendered the government an arena of petty political warfare, with the most recent example being when Transport Minister Dimitris Reppas referred to officials at another ministry as “sissies.” For a year-and-a-half the government of “change” and “reform” has proved itself unable to rise to the occasion, which it has defined. It has not changed. It is sinking and taking the country down along with it. And the people can no longer take comfort in hearing about the prime minister’s anguish, because theirs is much greater.