This is neither the first time that an electoral cycle has lured a government into making untrammeled promises and pledges of handouts, nor is it the first time that everything is ready to be sacrificed for the sake of power.
In spring, 1985, Andreas Papandreou called elections and promised “better days”, having only $300mn in foreign exchange reserves. He won the election and three months later imposed the first austerity programme, while simultaneously devaluating the drachma.
Four years later, in 1989, he sacrificed the fruit of his three-year economic stabilisation programme, and did not hesitate to lead the country to the verge of bankruptcy in order to control the electoral result and cut his losses.
For the same reason, in the 1993 elections, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, in order to conceal his wear left behind huge deficits, forcing his successor into a cycle of belt-tightening measures.
In 2004, the outgoing Simitis government’s finance minister, Nikos Christodoulakis, distributed about seven billion euros in a bid to turn the tide, but in vain. Citizens collected the handouts and voted en masse for Kostas Karamanlis.
In the current electoral period, the government, despite so many bitter experiences, is pulling all the stops in order to change a political climate that is not in its favour.
Even though the prime minister knows first-hand that the country remains up in the air and is disputed – barred from the markets, breathless, with weak growth and fragile public finances – he is ready to blow everything out of the water.
The PM is handing out back pay, pensions, and social solidarity benefits, while promising to hire thousands of civil servants and to distribute benefits to a host of social groups in the name of a precarious stabilisation, into which he was forced by creditors in summer, 2015, having previously rejected any progress. With his self-confessed self-deceptions and delusions, he brought the country to the edge of the abyss.
He did all this with unprecedented ease and great audacity. He boasts when addressing parliament, he provokes, and he berates and mocks his opponents, skewing even the obvious.
Undoubtedly, the government is struggling with no sense of measure to ensure its political survival. For them, the end justifies the means, and everything is placed at the disposal of the general directorate, in order to avert the impending handover of power.
“Come and get it, folks,” is the slogan, around which the prime minister and all of his ministers without exception coordinate, despite the assurances to the contrary.
Unfortunately, these representatives of “the new” in politics, who are supposedly fighting for renewal in the country’s political life, come from the mould of the most vulgar and detrimental old-party politics that the country has seen in over forty years.