A Pyrrhic vic­tory af­ter an own goal

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY STAVROS LYGEROS

Due to the in­volve­ment of the eu­ro­zone’s top brass, the “con­sen­sus” op­er­a­tion nearly turned into a po­lit­i­cal wound for An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras. That’s why, when Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou called him on Wed­nes­day to pro­pose the for­ma­tion of a unity coali­tion gov­ern­ment, the New Democ­racy leader turned the ta­bles, set­ting his own terms for his par­tic­i­pa­tion, such as the ap­point­ment of a jointly ap­proved prime min­is­ter, on the one hand, and for the new gov­ern­ment to rene­go­ti­ate a new mem­o­ran­dum, on the other. For a few hours, the dis­agree­ment was over who had tabled the idea of chang­ing PM. Later, how­ever, PASOK’s chief backed down, ef­fec­tively of­fer­ing his op­po­nent a great po­lit­i­cal gift with his own goal. At a time when the gov­ern­ment is los­ing le­git­i­macy and be­ing desta­bi­lized, the in­ci­dent was an in­di­rect yet ex­plicit ad­mis­sion by Pa­pan­dreou that he can’t han­dle the cri­sis. This, along with his re­turn to the same dead end, al­most in­evitably led to cracks in the par­lia­men­tary group. What saved him, of course, was not the ridicu­lous pro­pa­ganda of de­fec­tion which was spread by gov­ern­ment mouth­pieces. It was the im­mi­nent dan­ger of a to­tal col­lapse that set in mo­tion the gov­ern­ment camp’s sur­vival in­stinct. This de­vel­op­ment buys the prime min­is­ter some time but does noth­ing to change any of the fac­tors which cre­ated the fi­nan­cial, so­cial and po­lit­i­cal dead end in the first place. Un­til re­cently, ris­ing to the helm of one of the two ma­jor par­ties was a pass­port to be­com­ing premier. Things are dif­fer­ent to­day. So­ci­ety is not just turn­ing its back on the rul­ing party and the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem. It is ac­tively turn­ing against them, as demon­strated by the In­dig­nant move­ment and con­firmed by pub­lic opin­ion sur­veys. The ap­plause by the So­cial­ist par­lia­men­tary group yes­ter­day has no po­lit­i­cal ef­fect on so­ci­ety and that is why it will not get Pa­pan­dreou out of the dead end. Mean­while, as it iden­ti­fies with its leader, in­sti­tu­tional PASOK is be­ing led to­ward po­lit­i­cal dis­dain. Chances are the PM has se­cured the midterm fis­cal plan vote and hopes the reshuf­fle will up­grade his gov­ern­ment and give it a new dy­namic. It is likely, how­ever, that to­mor­row he will once again face the same, fa­mil­iar dead ends. The In­dig­nants will keep fill­ing up Syn­tagma Square, min­is­ters will con­tinue to meet with dis­ap­proval and the econ­omy will keep sink­ing deeper into re­ces­sion, giv­ing rise to fi­nan­cial and eco­nomic ruin. Un­der the cir­cum­stances, the task of re­duc­ing the deficit will in­creas­ingly look like a dog chas­ing its tail. It looks like so­ci­ety has crossed the Ru­bi­con and as a re­sult, the Pa­pan­dreou gov­ern­ment has no po­lit­i­cal fuel to live a long life.

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