Leadership faced with scale of troika reforms opts to do nothing
GREEK LETTER:There is no way that Greek society can be restructured without a collective lobotomy
IMAGINE THE Fine Gael-Labour Coalition where the Cabinet included no Labour TDs. Imagine the FG-Labour coalition in which Eamonn Gilmore was not Tánaiste. Yet that is the situation in Greece, where we have what is in effect a single-party government of New Democracy (ND) supported (or perhaps not) in parliamentary votes by Pasok and Democratic Left (DL), who have no place in cabinet.
In effect they are excluded from the government that they theoretically support, but to which their leaders have no direct ministerial input. The government consists of MPs from ND, and technocrats, drawn largely from the universities, some of whom, as a colleague puts it, have Pasok and DL DNA.
Given that there are defections from Pasok, and serious doubts on the part of DL about the stance of prime minister Antonis Samaras on renegotiation of the bailout, it’s amazing Samaras can actually continue to command a majority. Much of his success is due to the fears of Pasok and DL that they would suffer even more if they were to undergo a third election this year.
Meanwhile Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos is in that extraordinary position of having responsibility without power, while presiding over an imploding party. He cannot disassociate himself from the austerity and bailout conditions, yet the Pasok old guard rejects his plea for rejuvenation and reform. He must have a lot to talk about with Micheál Martin when they meet at the Salon des Refusés.
There is a general feeling that “the end is nigh”, but no-one seems to know what the end will consist of, or what will follow it. The man in the street bemoans the paucity of political leadership, which is not unique to Greece, of course. There are many men in many streets who know that, worldwide, politicians have been joyriding their electorates, but have failed to deliver solutions due to the force majeure of extra-national consortia.
After the May 6th election, the interim prime minister, Loukas Papademos, is alleged to have had a phone conversation with EU chief José Manuel Barroso. Both men deny that the conversation took place, which seems to confirm that it did.
In the course of their talk, Barroso is alleged to have said: “If you don’t like the rules, get out of the club.” This seems to be the flip side of Marx’s remark (Groucho, not Karl): “I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member.”
It’s remarkable that no one thought of this when entry to the euro zone was being considered.