Two entirely different worlds will clash in the next Greek elections. One of them envisions hirings and benefits for all. The primary objective of the other is the expansion of the economic pie and the creation of jobs. The former seeks the continuation of the clientele model which, with few exceptions, has prevailed since the inception of the modern Greek state and reached its peak in the accursed 1980s. The latter has realized that the clientele model is bankrupt and cannot be reinstated as it doesn’t entail a primary role for healthy entrepreneurship.
But this is where doubts begin to seep in.
Can the culture of this country change? Can tired and exhausted Greeks get over the ambition of securing themselves a job in the public sector? Can the lawmakers and officials of conservative New Democracy break free from past habits – in the form of political favors and public sector appointments? Can the leader of New Democracy free himself from the intense bipolarity of his predecessors, including his own father who continuously moved between old party politics and true leadership?
What percentage of Greek society do these people represent?
But let’s move on. In their hour of need, a section of the country’s citizens found a safety net in SYRIZA. It would be a mistake to ignore that. There are thousands of citizens who live on benefits and who don’t pay power bills or public transport fees because they don’t have the money. Thousands have been given state jobs and others think that Alexis Tsipras will protect them in the future.
What percentage of Greek society do these people represent? It’s no small number and those in government are focused on ways to meet their demands.
There are also those citizens caught in the middle – they are not exactly the have-nots, but they’re not haves either. Young people who work countless hours for 500 euros a month, the self-employed professionals who simply can’t make ends meet if they pay all their financial obligations and the conscientious civil servants who get paid peanuts. These are the people who must be convinced that there is another growth model and value system that can lift them out of their impasse.
That is not an easy thing to do. In order for the reset effort to succeed, a cultural change and a paradigm shift is needed, as well as a change in the behavior of political and financial elites.
If the next government cannot get the wagon out of the mud, we will be scraping the bottom of the barrel for a very long time to come.