PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos has linked government stability with the performance of the center-left Olive Tree alliance at the May 25 European Parliament elections. The PASOK president is as uncontainable as he is voluminous, an egotist with a tendency to succumb to the biggest errors of politics, and this statement of his was quite justly interpreted as an expression of defeatism.
However, Venizelos is also a victim of the heightened tones of rhetoric that inevitably arise during election periods. The head-on clash between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, has transformed this election process – usually of little direct importance – into a vote of confidence, and the result is that Venizelos is being crushed into annihilation.
Effectively,Venizelos is dealing with an in-party uprising. His predecessor, George Papandreou, that lone runner of great political distances, has been ignoring him quite systematically, while others within PASOK’s ranks are either directly or tacitly calling for a change in leadership, even as soon as right after the elections. PASOK under Venizelos’s stewardship is crumbling. Its fans can mourn its passing.
On his part, Samaras is acting under the stress of competition with Tsipras. But his problems are not limited to SYRIZA, as Golden Dawn seems to be making something of a comeback despite the general political outcry and the criminal case being built against the party. If this trend is confirmed in the polls it will create huge problems that will no longer be limited to the government’s survival but will function toward undermining the political system in its entirety.
The biggest difference between the Greek leader and his European counterparts is that he is trying to link his own survival to that of the nation and the country. What this results in is rabid confrontations with his opponents, which lead to further disunity within society and an atmosphere of polarization.
In other European countries, mainstream political parties are mostly interested in preserving the political system. Sure, they have their ideological differences, but these are mostly seen as different views on how to best maintain and better a system which no one really questions.
Despite claims to the contrary, Greece does not really belong to the West. Politicians have a kaleidoscopic view of European reality. Tsipras dreams of a European revolution whose overall objectives remain vague. But this distorted perception is damaging the country.
For 34 years, Greece’s political, economic and academic establishment failed to realize the true meaning of the country’s accession to the European system. Some people created and have sought to perpetuate a virtual reality. The result has been a distortion of the political system to an extent never before seen in any of the countries of the European south.