Scrap­ing to­gether the 180 MPs will not be enough

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Even if the coali­tion gov­ern­ment was to scrape to­gether the 180-MP majority it needs to elect a new Pres­i­dent in the 300-seat House, skep­tics say, what will change re­ally? There is one ev­i­dent an­swer to this ques­tion and one that still has to come from rul­ing of­fi­cials. At the mo­ment, the Greek econ­omy is grow­ing and signs in­di­cate that the trend will con­tinue into 2015. Sev­eral for­eign in­vestors are ev­i­dently in­ter­ested in putting their money in the lo­cal econ­omy. To be sure, this is by no means some a suc­cess that will cut Greece’s un­em­ploy­ment rate by half. But it still marks a no­table im­prove­ment for an econ­omy that had hit rock bot­tom. Progress, how­ever, has come to a halt be­cause po­lit­i­cal risk is high. Ev­ery­one is wait­ing to see whether the gov­ern­ment will man­age to gather the 180 MPs; if the coun­try will go to early elec­tions; which party will be able to form a gov­ern­ment; which SYRIZA fac­tion will have the big­gest rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Par­lia­ment and so on. Pro­long­ing po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity for one more year would help im­prove the in­vest­ment cli­mate and, most im­por­tantly, ward off more dam­age to mar­ket con­fi­dence. That said, we still need to be con­vinced that if the New Democ­racy/PA­SOK power-shar­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion is some­how able to get those 180 votes, some­thing more than the pres­i­dent will change. It all de­pends on An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras, the con­ser­va­tive prime min­is­ter. Can he con­vince vot­ers that he will form a gov­ern­ment based on tech­nocrats and politi­cians who do not be­long to his nar­row en­vi­ron­ment? Can he out­line a se­ri­ous, growth-in­duc­ing plan and en­trust its im­ple­men­ta­tion to a team of ef­fi­cient of­fi­cials? Can he re­move a hand­ful of em­bar­rass­ing gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials who are such a ma­jor put-off for ev­ery cen­ter-ground voter that has sup­ported his gov­ern­ment? Fur­ther­more, can the premier come up with a group of wor­thy of­fi­cials that have what it takes to deal with the chal­lenges of the times? Can he stop the ap­point­ments of failed or ex- pired politi­cians at key state posts? The com­ing days will be a test be­cause so­ci­ety is worn down and angry, PA­SOK is in cri­sis and the troika wants to con­duct ex­per­i­ments in ex­treme con­di­tions. How­ever, if the gov­ern­ment were to find the support of 180 deputies but still fail to change things, pub­lic dis­ap­point­ment will be huge. Vot­ers will in­ter­pret the 180 votes as a machi­na­tion, not as an op­por­tu­nity. Put dif­fer­ently, Sa­ma­ras has noth­ing to lose by see­ing through the rest of his term as if he were not in­ter­ested in his im­me­di­ate po­lit­i­cal fu­ture. In fact, his abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate some­thing along th­ese lines could se­ri­ously boost his chances of suc­cess.

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