Taking its inspiration from the ongoing debate on whether this time will be different for Greece and whether Syriza will deliver on its reform promises to the European partners, this Commentary expresses bemusement that the public debate on such an important issue as well as internal discussions among senior policy-makers frequently resort to ‘gut feelings’ or simple stereotypes. To counteract this tendency, the author presents a simple analytical framework that can be used to assess the likelihood that a government will deliver on its reform agenda. Its purpose is not to allow for a precise probabilistic calculation, but to enable better structuring of the knowledge we have. It emphasises that the change depends NOT only on the capacity of the state to design and deliver policies, but even more crucially on state autonomy from both illegitimate and legitimate interests and cognitive models used by policy-makers to make sense of the world.
The author is Senior Research Fellow at CEPS, Member of Parliament in Slovakia and previously State Secretary for Labour, Social Affairs and Family (2002-2006).