After having been proven wrong over a recent prediction about the price of oil, The Economist went on to defend itself by saying that the secret to successful predictions is giving the when or the how much but never the two together. The other secret is to cover every base by making vague predictions.
Prophecies about a possible government reshuffle have been following the latter rule. We hear speculation that the reshuffle will take place either before or after the summer holidays or sometime before or after the Thessaloniki International Fair or even sometime before or after the local elections in November. We are also hearing rumors that it will be a sweeping reshuffle or will only affect the posts of ministers running as candidates in the local elections, that it will only concern the so-called “productive” ministries or that the prime minister feels there is no time to lose when it comes to pushing ahead with structural reforms.
The fact is that a reshuffle will take place some day. It may be sweeping or surgical, it may hold surprises and it may not. At the end of the day, though, do citizens care enough for there to be so much noise about it?
We all know that some ministers are dragging their feet and others are oblivious to the severity of the situation. Their replacement, however, is not a part of the political process per se. All this talk about a reshuffle really concerns those ministers who have no public presence whatsoever and by dropping names and suppositions here and there they get some coverage. Any statement about a possible change in the ranks of government earns the speaker at least 15 minutes on television. In the drought-of-news days of August, it may even mean more than that.
The issue, therefore, is not about who will be responsible for adopting the reforms the country needs but whether they will be adopted without any fine print. Deregulation, opening up closed-shop professions, purging state-owned companies and stopping up the holes through which the state is bleeding money are the big issues the country is facing, and these should be the topics of discussion rather than who will be sitting in which chair.
Published in "Kathimerini" newspaper 17.8.2010