New agenda needed for PASOK and a more open style of party

Despite its successes in the so-called «high policy» field, the government seems to lag behind regularly in public opinion polls. Will insistence on its existing platform be sufficient for PASOK to gain victory at the next elections? The government has a program that will be judged at the end of its four-year term. Prime Minister Costas Simitis has no aces up his sleeve; he doesn’t pull rabbits out of hats. He works according to objectives and a program. That’s what he knows how to do, he does it well and that’s what has worked for him so far. The difficulties at the present moment are enormous. The political climate is uncertain, but a sure recipe for losing the elections would be to diverge from clear goals just for the sake of temporary payoffs. Recently, the issue of corruption has dominated Greek politics, with Simitis accusing opposition leader Costas Karamanlis of using the rhetoric of the dictatorship. Given that PASOK has ruled since 1993, how do you judge the adequacy of the measures taken to combat corruption? Combating corruption demands a change of mentality, namely the political education of all citizens. Large and small (everyday) interests have become a noose around the necks of politicians. I believe in the need for a long-term campaign that will start at school, creating a new generation of citizens who look on corruption as a crime (and not as something clever), and affecting the relationship of the political system with the State. There have been creative steps in legislation and administration, but the problem runs deep and can’t be dealt with simply by accusations or announcements. The day following the discussion on the topic was marked by the dismissal of the premier’s press officer, Yiannis Pantayias. What do you have to say about the subsequent events? Tying everyone in with corruption will taint all politicians, which will be to the disadvantage of everyone and of democracy. I believe that, as on other occasions, the reports go beyond moderation, and moderation is the basis of a democratic state. Lately, we have heard PASOK described as «a trade fair,» an «autistic party,» and a «party suffering from political anorexia.» How do you see the present situation in PASOK and what must change so that it stops operating as it does today? I find observations and analysis useful. Speaking for myself, I expressed my views on the changes needed two years ago. First, as far as policy content is concerned, I think what is needed is a new political agenda. We need a new manifesto by socialists on the new economy, the information society, the environment and globalization. And I think a new kind of party is needed, which should have the following six characteristics: It must be an open party, be run along network lines, be participatory, a party that teaches, is technologically savvy and European. But this annual discussion about reconstructing the party is tedious. I think Greek public opinion could get interested when it sees something specific happening.