Political rumblings afoot?
Deeply scarred financially, socially numb, without a plan and with little confidence, Greece sails on ungoverned. The prime minister appears to have lost the trust of the country’s European partners and the international markets, while the government is composed of people who are busy getting ready for the day after and their own personal survival. The European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, meanwhile, are not oblivious to this and as such their recommendations have taken on a raw political quality that allows for little leeway. Remarkably, the people seem to be calmer than anyone else and on the whole have shown a great deal of patience and discipline in the face of poverty and unemployment. For the silent majority, many of the reforms outlined in the memorandum have been accepted, especially those that concern streamlining the state. Other reforms and cutbacks have been deemed unnecessary or even destructive. What is not acceptable to the people is a second memorandum, and especially one that would be even stricter than the first and would signal an even deeper recession. Meanwhile, public opinion also seems to be shifting away from Prime Minister George Papan- dreou, as a year-and-a-half after his election victory, more and more voters are beginning to see him as being responsible for the state of the country right now. At this pivotal juncture we saw the emergence of Antonis Samaras with his so-called Zappeio 2 plan. Once a political outcast, the outsider who was elected leader of the New Democracy opposition party, shattered and burdened by scandals and bad management, introduced change: He changed the style of the party’s rhetoric, along with its objectives and its image. Most importantly, he dared to challenge the memorandum and now, at a time when people are looking for another way out, he feels ready to challenge the government in an election. Samaras’s appearance on Wednesday shifted the focus on Greece’s political agenda in his favor: He looked and sounded like a leader as he emphasized the need to restore the people’s confidence in themselves and presented a way out of the recession, while at the same time attracting the notice of the international element, which is looking for an interlocutor who has political backing. The road for Samaras remains very rocky, but it looks like he has a chance.