The dream where Papandreou and Samaras agree
Maybe I’m a dreamer. But just imagine for a moment that George Papandreou wakes up one day and decides to call Antonis Samaras and say: “Look, Greece is sinking. We have just enough money to cover salaries and pensions until June. We must join hands. Don’t get me started on what I used to tell Costas Karamanlis because, this time, we’re really sinking. Let me put it differently: I run the risk of going down in history as the prime minister who led Greece to bankruptcy. But you also run the risk of going down as the one who took the country back to the drachma as my successor.” Imagine if Samaras agreed to a top-level meeting, where the two leaders, together with some senior aides and experts, sat around a table to talk, away from the eyes of journalists and television cameras, about the framework of a national platform. First, on how we can create a primary surplus so that we do not depend on outside support, at least for our operational costs. Second, on how we can handle the complex issue of debt and how we can go about knocking down the obstacles, erected by our patron-client state, that have long undermined healthy growth. Third, on what can be done to curb illegal immigration and streamline our dysfunctional education and social security systems. Now try to think of Samaras responding: “OK, George. I’m with you. But make sure you keep your boys in check and that you know exactly what you want before we meet around that table.” Now imagine the two leaders listening to Bank of Greece Governor Giorgos Provopoulos presenting numbers and then taking the time, together, to trim state costs case-by-case and to agree on a privatization package. Do you know how far the spreads would fall the following day? And, more important, how proud and confident the average Greek would feel? I know what you are thinking: “Dream on. This is the real world of partisan egotism and populist soundbites.” You can almost hear some of our politicians telling our lenders: ‘give me that money and shut up. I will use it as I see proper.’ I don’t have some kind of wierd fetish with consensus. But damn it, the country is going down and our political leaders will not stop playing hide and seek. Time is running out. We must finally get our act together.