‘ND’s real opponent: PASOK-made woes’

«The truth is that it would be hard for PASOK to do worse than with Simitis,» is Souflias’s view on developments in the ruling party. And he points out that ND’s real opponent is the problems PASOK created in society with its stalemated policies. Do you see Papandreou as a more dangerous opponent? If you mean under which leader PASOK would get the most votes, it is still too early to tell. The truth is that it would be hard for PASOK to do worse than with Simitis. But since you used the word «opponent,» I’ll tell you something I want you take at face value: ND’s real opponent is the problems PASOK created in society with its stalemated policies. It’s them that we’ll be fighting. That’s why on March 7 the Greek people will decide to change Greece, by changing the government and its policies. By talking about «showcasing» and «packaging,» isn’t ND underestimating Papandreou? Doesn’t he have his finger on the people’s pulse? You are mistaken. ND does not criticize Papandreou personally, but the way in which PASOK used him in a situation that really demeans his personality and makes him part of a spectacle. That show itself may do Papandreou an injustice. You are an experienced politician. What is your view of Papandreou? First of all, I already told you I think he is likable; but I don’t know – no Greeks know – what other views he has apart from the well-known and largely unsuccessful policies of his party. Let me tell you something: I believe whatever leader PASOK had today would lose power. Not because I’m in ND, but because I see that PASOK has become a regime at all levels, and because ND’s program is the one that can change Greece and tackle problems. But even if I didn’t believe that there needs to be a big change in the government of the country, I still don’t believe Papandreou should be prime minister of Greece on March 8. Unlike Costas Karamanlis, who has experience of the public’s major problems – as head of New Democracy for seven years he has visited all of Greece – George Papandreou does not know the issues. He does not have the necessary experience. He isn’t ready. Perhaps he will be in the future, I don’t feel passionate on that score, but certainly not now. In any case, his role as leader of one of the country’s two major parties will be very important in the coming years. And I sincerely wish him well, because it is important for Greece. What is his most positive trait? Papandreou does not campaign under the banner of splitting the Greek people, and that is already a positive step in comparison with his predecessor. It is a substantial improvement on Simitis’s policy, one that should be welcomed. I hope he believes in it and it is not just a public relations gesture. I believe firmly in the educational role of politics, and that is why I place a lot of emphasis on the issue of splitting Greeks. And I believe that on that level, with Simitis as leader of PASOK, things were going so badly that it would be hard for them to become worse with anyone else. Unless of course no one else emerges and there is just a complete continuity of policies and people from the Simitis era. And that is what worries me, because if PASOK genuinely wanted to change things, it would have done so much earlier and not on the eve of the elections. I’m afraid Papandreou may be the hostage of all that and will not be able to overcome it even if he wants to. He can’t because he’s part of them, he never clashed with them when he should have; how will he clash with them now?

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