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18 July, 2019
 
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The liberal narrative and the risks

The new liberal narrative must be protected and shielded because Greek society is exhausted and wary

Alexis Papachelas

Alexis Papachelas

The main opposition’s expected election victory has created a euphoric mood on the markets. Those in the know believe there will be a rally that will last for several months (unless the investment “shock” New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has pledged does not happen). Concerns over various political land mines have almost dissipated. The strong possibility of a majority government, combined with the fact that the election of the next president will not affect political developments, forms a four-year framework of political stability.

The country needs to see rapid growth. People want jobs and opportunities. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accomplished one good thing, which was that he broke down decades-old stereotypes. He deconstructed the myths perpetuated by the Left, according to which profit was evil and investors were the devil. He may have achieved few things and may be returning to his roots (and a 3 percent vote), but the road has been opened.

However, the next steps require great caution. The culture of deceit remains alive and well. The new government must be unyielding in the face of such incidents. Greek society may have partly forgiven the cover-up of the Folli Follie scandal and other cases in which prominent families left huge debts unpaid while holding on to their wealth, but it would not easily forgive a center-right government for similar incidents.

The narrative of fair growth for all must be protected from those who see it as an opportunity for easy money, or illegal enrichment. The Hellenic Capital Market Commission must operate efficiently and do its job. Corporate governance regulations need to become the rule rather than the exception. Banks must continue on the path of transparency.

Oligarchs who feel all-powerful after being treated wonderfully by a left-wing government should understand that they must obey the rules and that no one owes them anything, nor should they have a say in what the state sells and to whom. If institutions, procedures and tenders are not respected, we end up with obsessive prosecutors.

Mitsotakis does not owe his rise to ND leader or his subsequent path to anyone. He knows from family experience how ephemeral and poisonous it can be to embrace oligarchs. He also knows that during the crisis a new kind of entrepreneurship has emerged, which is export-oriented and abides by the rules, and wants nothing from the state apart from predictability and that it refrains from putting additional obstacles in their path.

The new liberal narrative must be protected and shielded because Greek society is exhausted and wary. And the beast of populism will continue to lurk around.

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