Par­a­lyzed

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY COSTAS IORDANIDIS

Gior­gos Pa­pa­con­stanti­nou, the So­cial­ist gov­ern­ment’s fi­nance min­is­ter who is also the ar­chi­tect of the two so-called me­moran­dums signed with Greece’s in­ter­na­tional cred­i­tors, has come un­der heavy fire from the Cabi­net. The re­ac­tion of the PASOK deputies was to be ex­pected. But even if it was in part jus­ti­fied, there is not much one could ex­pect from it. Pa­pa­con­stanti­nou has from the start be­haved like an eco­nomic ex­pert. But his short­com­ings be­came painfully ev­i­dent in less than a year. Dur­ing his talks with the mem­bers of the so­called troika – the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund, the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion – the Greek fi­nance min­is­ter seemed to miss one key el­e­ment in the process, known as bar­gain­ing. In an undis­puted sign of po­lit­i­cal im­ma­tu­rity, Pa­pa­con­stanti­nou treated PASOK deputies in an ar­ro­gant man­ner. In re­turn, they lashed out at him two days ago. As fi­nance min­is­ter, Pa­pa­con­stanti­nou failed to en­sure pub­lic rev­enue in­creases as man­dated by the mem­o­ran­dum. Fail­ure to do so dam­aged his cred­i­bil­ity among fel­low min­is­ters whom he had re­peat­edly pres­sured to meet their obli­ga­tions to­ward the troika. The prob­lem no longer is whether Pa­pa­con­stanti­nou will keep his post or not. The Greek tragedy, in its mod­ern-day rein­car­na­tion, is that the coun­try is ruled by a needy gov­ern­ment that is mired in end­less de­bates and con­sul­ta­tions, like Fidel Cas­tro’s post-rev­o­lu­tion­ary Cuba. The PASOK ad­min­is­tra­tion is in­ca­pable of pulling its weight at a time when ev­ery­thing is an emer­gency. The po­lit­i­cal paral­y­sis of Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou’s gov­ern­ment has had a dele­te­ri­ous ef­fect on the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem at large. Hence the mass protests at Syn­tagma Square and in other cities across the coun­try, as well as the man­i­fes­ta­tions of po­lit­i­cal dis­obe­di­ence. That said, we do not mean to pa­per over the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and mis­takes of the con­ser­va­tive ad­min­is­tra­tions. How­ever, the fact is that it is the gov­ern­ment of a coun­try that sets the tone. When that is done by the op­po­si­tion or, worse, by the crowds, then there is the risk of los­ing con­trol. This is ex­actly what is hap­pen­ing now as, 36 years af­ter the end of the dic­ta­tor­ship, the coun­try is faced with the specter of po­lit­i­cal dis­in­te­gra­tion.

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