The slogan “the center-left is here,” which dominated the back of the stage at the recent Democratic Alignment congress, was also the main message organizers were trying to send, although it wasn’t wildly original or even particularly catchy. In the memory of the viewer-listener, of the possibly concerned citizen, what is really meant by the slogan comes to mind automatically: “PASOK is here.” The new PASOK – or whatever else it has been called in a bid to convince the electorate that it has been rejuvenated – but also the old PASOK, the regular one.
After all, protagonists from every period in the life of the Socialist party that dominated the Greek political scene after the end of the 1967-74 dictatorship were present at the event.
It would be interesting to know just what was going through the minds of those listening to party chief Fofi Gennimata having a passionate, anti-establishment moment (with that smug certainty that is inevitably discovered by all those who become the big boss at some point). What were they thinking when she said that “power is the big launderer of history as it washes away all the dirt,” using this phrase to point the finger at ruling SYRIZA rather than to exercise at least the customary and shallow self-criticism that such party gatherings usually see? After all, the idea of power as being the great eraser of past sins also relates to her party.
Back in the late 1980s when the party founder and chief started to lose his grip on power, the party used the slogans “PASOK is here” and “People – PASOK in power.” The slogans appeared almost self-pitying rather than self-affirming and drew sundry sarcastic comments and criticism. In its present modernized version of “the center-left is here,” it was used first and foremost so that the public would make the association with PASOK, which is the main party in the alignment, and on a secondary level to keep up the pretext and pander to Democratic Left, the smaller party in the group. It was also an attempt to convince people that there is such a thing as a center-left right now and that it is organized. It wanted to make political uncertainty sound like confidence and the fragmentation that continues to eat away at this part of the spectrum like unity.
The congress was not talked about because of what happened as much as for what did not happen, starting with the absence of Potami chief Stavros Theodorakis, who, as a center-right center-leftist or a decisively indecisive politician, chose, instead to attend the congress of the Drasi party. All that followed – sarcastic leaks and friendly backstabbing – confirms that a lot more congresses need to be held simply to determine what we mean by center-left.