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Greece needs a government of capable people without George Papandreou in its composition

05 November 2011 / 01:11:06  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

If you ever have the opportunity to hear Stefanos Manos, you will find that he is one of those politicians who are not limited to empty rhetoric and present things in their real dimensions and offer concrete solutions. He is a liberal and throughout his 30-year political career he has held various ministerial posts in the government of New Democracy. He graduated in mechanical engineering in Zurich and has a Master's degree in business administration from Harvard University. He was first elected to parliament in 1977, and in 1998, the then President of New Democracy Costas Karamanlis excluded him from the party because he had refused to follow the party line. Since then, he has remained independent, and today is the leader of the party Drasi (Action).

Mr. Manos, how would you assess the events of recent days? What is the outcome of this political drama?

What should happen is that the Prime Minister be changed. This change can happen in two ways: by elections, or if the PASOK party, which has a majority in parliament today changes the Prime Minister. The same had happened once with George Papandreou’s father. He was sick, the PASOK parliamentary group changed the Prime Minister, and Costas Simitis took his place. They should do that now.

Do you think that it depends on today's vote?

No, it does not depend on the vote. I do not care what its outcome will be. Even if he loses the vote, George Papandreou will remain the leader of PASOK and under the constitution the President will ask him to form a new government. He can start with 145 MPs instead of 152, find partners and form a government again. Therefore, the problem is not whether he will get a vote of confidence or not. For me, it is important that PASOK should have a new leader.

What do you think of New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras’ proposal for a transitional government?

I think it is unreal. What does New Democracy say - to form a government of limited responsibility? It will involve technocrats who, within six weeks, will complete the procedures under the contract of October 26, although it is unclear whether this could be done for such a short time. Their message is to take the money from the sixth tranche, and then hold elections.

In my opinion, the first obstacle to this proposal would be that the money would not be paid. And this would because France and Germany have decided not to help us unless we ourselves "clean the site". If we proceeded according to the proposal of Mr. Samaras, even if we ratified the agreements, our partners would not give us the money, because they would not be sure that the next government would implement the arrangements. I think the following should happen, in this particular order: Withdrawal of Mr. Papandreou, change to another Prime Minister and then, formation of a government on the initiative of PASOK, as it has the highest number of deputies in parliament. This should be a very strong and influential cabinet, having 12-15 months to clear up the situation in the country. It is not necessary to involve members of PASOK. It could be based on party officials, but be a government of the most talented individuals. I.e., we need about 15 people who will put all their efforts into solving the problems of the country within a year and a half.

I think this is the right decision. I fear, however, that this will not happen. I also fear that with the way of thinking in Greece, they will find some way to patch things up to eventually gain some time. Then, we will find ourselves facing the very same problems we have today. Much more serious changes are necessary than those stipulated in the agreement of October 26. And only a very strong government would be able to make them.

But you say you are pessimistic.

Yes, I am a pessimist. I think that they will patch things up again, this is their mentality. This error, however, will lead us to a new crisis after two - three months. And, as we know from the current term of Papandreou, any further decision is worse than the previous. The decision of October 26 may relieve us from one part of the debt, but on the other hand, Greece will have the ill repute of a insolvent country for the next 10-20 years.

This will continue until the country obtains a strong government that is not interested in elections, votes and what one union or another is saying, but which does the ten things that are urgent.

Do you think the next government will be able to carry out all necessary reforms to reduce the public sector, to capture tax evaders, etc.?

It very much depends on what it would be. Let us say that Mr. Venizelos, for example, heads it. My forecast is that he would not be able to do it because if he could, he would have done it already. We need something new, radical, to introduce a person who will "open" the government. Suppose now that PASOK invites Costas Simitis, saying "we know you do not like us and we do not like you either but we think you are suitable." He could form a government not involving only PASOK supporters, but other people too. They would not intend to make a political career, but would solve the problems. PASOK would support this government by necessity. This would save not only Greece but also the PASOK party. This is because if they are now allowed to be taken to elections, the party would be destroyed. Eventually, this reality could somehow awaken their reasoning.

Tags: PoliticsStefanos ManosGovernmentGeorge PapandreouGreecePublic debtReformsPublic sectorPublic property
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