Greek Crisis Is Burdened by Lack of Political Consent

Two of the "P.I.G.S." group members, Spain and Portugal, seem to have a strong likelihood of avoiding any kind of European and IMF external funding assistance, through the same mechanism imposed in Greece and Ireland in exchange for the implementation of a tough austerity measures program. Contrarily, debt-ridden Spain and Portugal are likely going to become examples of how the responsibility of a country's government and opposition as well as that of its social partners, constitutes a precondition for the potential successful conclusion of the efforts made by a nation for rescuing itself from a potential default on its debt.

Spanish government and labour unions came up together with a broader social agreement to promote those reforms which are needed in order for the country to reverse the bond markets' suspiciousness and, furthermore, to not be subjected to the painful IMF's financial supervision. The same happened in Portugal when its Prime Minister and the head opposition found common ground to get their country out of the crisis by building a bilateral consensus. What's now occurring in Spain and Portugal is what should had happened in Greece before the Greek Prime Minister Mr. Papandreou surrendered his country to IMF's hands and, of course, before the head of the main opposition party Mr. Samaras claimed that he can reduce the budget deficit in just one year. However, both Greek parties' leaders keep losing an opportunity to rewrite their own page in the modern political history of Greece by doing what these crucial moments require and what the Spanish and Portugal handling of the crisis showed.

Mr. Papandreou and Samaras, along with their parties, should have tried harder to achieve the broadest consent possible in terms of the Greek political system. And that's not for more anti-social measures being launched, yet for Greece come out of the IMF supervision the soonest the possible. Until today both of these major parties in the country had never been engaged with the commitment to do what should be done in the structural reforming level of Greece, though they were pretending for decades not to realize that the Greek economy could no longer be sustainable. In the case of the Greek crisis, the problem's source was not the Greek statistics, since many other European countries such as Greece were trying, if not to distort, , at least not to reveal their detailed total debt. The problem was and remains, over the last thirty years, that the Greek governments were used to hide themselves from a truth that all of them knew but none of them was willing to admit. At the same time, the threat of a political cost was haunting opposition parties as well as syndicates which were fighting more for preserving their particular vested interests and less for really defending the authentic social and labour rights of employees.

However, despite its diachronic faults, the country's political elite does not seem to be ready to surpass its bad past habits by making a greater leap to help Greece stand up again. And the worst thing is that the two major political parties are either unable or reluctant to be taught by the step which was taken by the political leaders in Spain and Portugal as well as by the labour unions in order to develop in each country a common defensive shield against the financial crisis storm. That political consensus is lacking in Greece. Not only now, but diachronically. However under these crucial and risky conditions concerning the Greek financial stability, that lack of consensus is linked with the surplus of immaturity shown by the government, major opposition party and representatives of social unions. On the one hand the previous Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis evaded to treat resolutely the upcoming crisis of Greek debt, and on the other hand the current George Papandreou government was deemed unprepared to cope timely with that crisis. Now, Greek Prime Minister Mr. Papandreou appealing for consensus does not make sense because he has not proved his sincere intentions. At the same time, the major opposition party is copying the classic recipe of denying some of the most crucial reforms proposals, covered by a dogma which says "IMF go home" and expecting the government's decline. Furthermore, it is doubtful whether labour syndicates are honestly protecting the jobs and interests of employees. .

The harmful financial crisis, which is hitting countries' economies and social care structures, requires political leaderships to revise their stance in politics and to seek new ways of multipolar governance, since complex problems provoked today by complicated reasons demand answers that can be given only by keeping horizons open. When the world around us is changing and evolving more and more rapidly, political powers need to be focused on how they will give solutions under the most possible consensus conditions. If we suppose that this crisis has made us more mature about something, it is about what people expect from their political representatives and leaders. That is to say not to remain trapped into mentalities of the past which were defined by the clash of ideologies and extreme partisanship, but, rather, to have the ability to unify the different opinions and proposals in all sides of each political spectrum.

The goal of political consolidation against the divisional political perceptions of the past is not a meaningless term today, but a determined modern political platform that has emerged by the knowledge of the unfavorable implications of partisan competition. Greece is a country that is, right now, facing up the vital challenge to pave the way for a broader political and social alliance under the pressure of the financial crisis' harsh impacts. If the Greek Prime Minister Mr. Papandreou and the head of the opposition party Mr. Samaras take steps towards the establishment of a new era of less partisan polarization and more effective collaboration, Greece would have much more to gain than to lose. And as President Obama pointed out in his recent speech, "What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow". And I would add that the future will not be as generous with us as the past in forgiving us for making the same mistakes.