January 8, 2015
The major topic / concern of EU, international and domestic media towards parliamentary elections in Greece is -again- whether the country will stay in or leave Eurozone. Actually it is an artificial dilemma as front opposition SYRIZA, leading the polls, never claimed against the fate of the country in the monetary Union. Therefore, it is time to drop “Grexit” from the discussion table.
The most important thing we need to point out is that the political environment in Greece is extremely fragmented these last days and it is expected to be even more in the coming days. Nonetheless, I believe it is time to point out some fundamental policy concerns that the next government in Greece should inevitably take into account.
A. Economic Recession Must Finally Get Addressed
Unemployment, poverty, growth, and investment rates remain extremely low in, in comparison with tax rate and spending cuts that remain high. The effect of tourism in real economy is also low, even if it shares a considerable part of national GDP. Priority sectors such as energy, health, education, and social security are still faced with structural constraints and bureaucratic burdens, a fact that weakens the prospects for a business friendly environment.
The next government should re-negotiate the terms and conditions of the bailout programme in the EU Summit scheduled for February and emphasize on growth clauses and public investment to unlock productive forces and improve debt management.
B. Media Should Focus More On Quality Information
Ten days now European and International Media irresponsibly re-produce the term “Grexit”, completely ignoring what is at stake in Greece. Instead, analysts and political commentators should invest on presenting the programs of the political parties, the different strategies, the profile and ideas of candidates and political leaders of the parties. At this stage, and all the way towards the election, what the European public should learn is that the Greek economy is faced with a deadlock while mounting grievances are spread in the society. Media correspondents should also seek for alternative sources of information in the country, bloggers and independent analysts, as a great part of domestic media is split between or siding the political camps.
C. Hear What The Greek Youth Has To Say
While discussing about the devastating effect of austerity over unemployment, there are no channels of expression for the majority of Greek youth. Media and political parties systematically ignore what the youth demands, dreams of and envisions. In this respect, all apolitical parties have pledged to revitalize their candidates’ lists with young people, but none of them did so. Therefore, for one more time, this group will be underrepresented in the Parliament.
D. Why Business And Investments Do Not Come In Greece?
The answer is simple. It has nothing to do with “political instability”, but primarily with a broad perception that Greece since 2012 is at a constant state of defaulting, which is that there is always the fear (and risk) that investing in Greece will be a waste of money. Capitals flee from the country, whereas labor-intensive investments are “on hold” waiting for a full normalization of the Greek economy. Such “normalization” will not come as long as the European leadership cannot properly understand that the national economy -and, to bring it further, the European economy- need to re-evaluate and re-set the goals of the Stability Pact.
E. SYRIZA Does Not Pose A Threat To Lenders And Political Stability
Neither SYRIZA nor any other party – other than extreme right parties – pose any threat to the lenders of the country or to political stability in Greece or Eurozone. The party has the strong ambition that it can re-negotiate the terms of the consolidation programme towards a better accommodation for all parts involved, especially for the Greek society and economy. In this respect, the great risk is to misconceive or mix the determination and the alternative economic policy that SYRIZA is planning to implement with a default on the consolidation programme. More possible would be an extreme upheaval in the Greek society and the rise of fascists should the current economic mindset in Europe remain, than a complete collapse of the Greek economy.Dimitris Rapidis