Athens, January 20, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Evangelos Venizelos President of PASOK – Democratic Alignment
In every election from the 1974 polity change onwards, the focus of attention of analysts, journalists, economic players, European and international institutions was which of the two major parties would be first; which party would get to form a government and implement the program it had announced, on the base of which it had called for the vote of the Greek people.
However, today we talk on different, unprecedented, terms compared to what we were used to. The political landscape has changed dramatically and the terms of the game are completely different. The old bipartisanship and hard bipolarity between the two traditional rivals, PASOK and New Democracy, no longer exists and for the first time in our postwar history the focus is not directed to the first party, but to the third.
Everyone knows now that overall majorities are hard to reach and do not provide solutions. The problems are now so intense and urgent and the cost of decisions so high that nobody could cope with current demands alone. We saw this happen with the majority government of PASOK in 2009 when it had 44% and still suffered unprecedented damage as it refused to share responsibility in managing the crisis and was eventually led to failing to convince people about the obvious: That the crisis we faced after 5 years of tragic and criminally frivolous government by New Democracy was what led us to take urgent measures that were unpleasant, that hurt us and made us bleed. We were not able to convince people that the crisis brought on the memorandum and harsh austerity and not the other way round. Thus we were left alone against everyone else, all the anti-memorandum parties that danced to the tune of populism and demagogy.
The right – which was largely responsible for the situation – did not learn from this. And while anger war building against the “bad” PASOK that cut salaries and pensions, the people did not bother to think of what the reasons that led to the crisis were and who was responsible. They forgave in this way both the right and the attitudes that led us here. So in May 2012, New Democracy – that had left [protests] Syntagma Square and anti-memorandum crowns behind – went to the election flying the flag of self-reliance. And what did it manage to do? It came first with 18 pct with PASOK not far behind with 13 pct. Even then the right failed to realize that a majority was an elusive dream and – despite the high cost for the country – took us to another election in June. Thus the first coalition government was formed in Greece during the crisis era between New Democracy, PASOK and DIMAR which aimed to complete the adjustment process which PASOK had began and seen through almost 80 pct while paying the huge cost in the election.
Only then did New Democracy realize that overall majority could wait. In the meantime it had fully accepted our policy and strategy. New Democracy had started to get a small taste of what responsibility and political cost meant.
In the 2014 European elections, New Democracy lost to SYRIZA and came second. The only reason the government did not collapse was that PASOK managed to stay on 8 pct against the terrorism of polls that gave us a mere 3 to 4 pct.
And now were are here. With SYRIZA having understood nothing from recent history or the mistakes of its rivals, still seeking an overall majority. An overall majority to do what? To fully apply its program without distraction; an unhistorical program that is naive, dangerous, confrontational, Utopian and which leads undoubtedly to disaster. SYRIZA says it rules out cooperating with anyone else besides the KKE and ANTARSYA, two clearly anti-European parties.
Without being aware of the unprecedented disharmony that a SYRIZA government with 30-35% pct majority would be in with society, it is the same society it is trying to convince with trickery and pseudo naivety that everything will be wonderful, optimistic and that we will give Europe a hiding, take the money, fill our pockets and live in paradise on Earth. This dangerous complacency, however, is a big lie that can lead fed-up Greeks to frustration, anger and rage and maybe then people will turn to other, desperate choices.
At the same time, of course, Mr. Tsipras says he will implement the program only if he has the overall majority. I do not know honestly if it is a threat or reassurance. Is it a threat in the sense that “if you give me an overall majority I will be forced to implement it entirely and let everything burn” or a reassurance that “you need not worry, I will not have the overall majority so I could use this as an excuse not to do whatever dangerous things I promise to do and know full well they cannot be done”? Ultimately, I don’t know honestly if this is an expression of SYRIZA’s wish to secure an overall majority or the hidden acceptance of self-failure on behalf of a party that perhaps suspects the impasse of its strategy, but can not admit it.
Well, let the Greek people judge freely. But people should know that on January 26 the lies are over. No party will enjoy an outright majority but also nobody could draw us into a repeat election and take on the cost of the national fall back such an event will cause. Nor could anyone use the election as an excuse.
Precisely for this reason, which party comes third is of great importance as according to the Constitution it will be receive the third mandate to form a government and be the national guarantor that will prevent an accident. All the people voting on Sunday should know that the guarantor must be capable to take on this task. It must have the strategy, knowledge and experience to play the role. PASOK is the guarantor of national stability not a wild-card for any government. We don’t necessarily want to be part of any government or engage in any further damage.
We will help so that the country is governed and lead safely but we will not adhere to policies we don’t believe in and consider dangerous. We did not buy into anyone’s policies; they accepted ours. Not because we are infallible but because there is another way if we finally want to be a proper country that is part of a strong Europe and with the euro as our currency.