OPINION

Commentary

Given the current global juncture, one would expect that recent events would dominate the ruling PASOK party congress, that it would try to examine international developments, fathom the emerging conditions, and take up a position on the emerging environment. But rather than engaging in fertile reflection and an evaluation of the unfolding conditions, which should also determine the parameters of the government’s new line of policy, Socialist officials seem to be exhausting themselves in the usual navel-gazing, in typical conflicts over posts and roles, and in a quest for power which has, after 20 years of Socialist governance, become second nature to the ruling party. If one excludes the opening speech by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the welcome for Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, which revived memories of the 1980s, the congress remained confined within narrow party limits, revealing no inspiration or pragmatic concerns about the country’s future. What emerged, instead, was a problematic party/state duality hanging on to power, and which is exclusively interested in the administration of that power. What appears to exist are cliques and small groupings, all connected to the state and the broader public sector, a class of people who no longer take any risks, who want things to remain as they are, and manageable. And this is the great problem of PASOK and of the prime minister, who wants to mobilize his party but cannot overcome the resistance of this composite, largely paralyzed mechanism. All indications are that the prime minister will prevail. He will receive the clear mandate he has asked for and probably get re-elected party chairman with more than 70 percent. This will allow him to form a government which has done with the compromises of the past. The question, however, is whether the new government will manage to proceed with the requisite modernization so as to acquire strong defenses against the threats mounting outside. Many people are skeptical on this point as they believe that the party cannot rid itself of the burdens created by its lengthy stay in power.