Anna Diamantopoulou says politicians should have made sacrifices too

Socialist heavyweight Anna Diamantopoulou does not rule out the creation of a new political party if New Democracy and PASOK are hammered in the May 6 parliamentary elections.

At the same time, however, Greece?s development minister deems that the two main parties stand a good chance of regaining the ground they have lost provided they demonstrate the requisite courage and determination, and — above all — change the way they do politics.

The pre-election confrontation between PASOK and ND has been reduced to who will become prime minister, rather than focusing on what voters should expect after the polls. Do you think the two parties have adequately faced up to their past mistakes?

I hope this question also refers to the media, which play their own role in shaping the pre-election agenda. Our political system still pretty much revolves around personalities, the prime minister and the political leaders. Allow me to say that the discussion about the next prime minister is a tedious one — and it is directed at a worn-down public. PASOK has done its share of self-criticism — and it has been sincere and focused at that. ND, on the other hand, has not found the courage to admit a single mistake. In any case, we need to explain what we tried to achieve, so as to avoid a disaster in the coming days. This is the best way to animate the heart and mind of the frustrated Greek citizen.

Evangelos Venizelos?s main goal is a PASOK victory at the May 6 election, but is there anything that guarantees that you will not repeat the mistakes of the past two years?

PASOK has paid the price for reckless pre-election rhetoric. The party has tackled a truly historic crisis without paying heed to the political cost. It has pushed significant reforms but, at the same time, committed some big mistakes and back-pedaling. People know it would be unfair to blame all the political ills of the post-1974 period on one single party. If there is one mistake we made as a political system during that period, it is that although we asked the people to make sacrifices, we did not do the same within the political system by immediately abolishing all privileges. If we really want to move ahead the day after, we will have to make symbolic and substantial gestures of this nature. If we want the people to trust us with the big challenges we are facing, they will have to believe that there is knowledge, ability, courage, sensitivity and that a paradigm shift has been made in the way we do politics and the way we lead our lives.

If ND and PASOK suffer the drop suggested in recent opinion polls, many people think it will just be a matter of time before a new party is born. Do you think this is a likely prospect?

The conditions are unprecedented and we are witnessing things that leave no room for safe predictions. There?s a chance that all this will free new forces. But there?s also a chance that the decline of the two-party system is a temporary thing. Fresh language and fresh faces could see the return of the two-party system. As far as I?m concerned, I intend to fight for a PASOK which can express the European tradition of social democracy and play a leading role in a reformist, progressive European movement. I deeply believe that the history of social democracy in Europe can still guarantee a way out of the crisis. A shift in the power balance from a very conservative Europe to a Europe where banks will contribute to growth rather than exercise influence over the EU could change the rules of the game.