Drag­ging the coun­try down

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY PAN­TELIS BOUKALAS

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.

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