OPINION

Editorial

Outgoing Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis yesterday provided an early sampling of the policy he intends to follow as PASOK party secretary, attacking the former prime minister from New Democracy, Constantine Mitsotakis, in an attempt to stir up parochial issues. By attempting to connect different time periods and by trying to identify political groups with individuals and specific cases for which both major parties have been accountable, Laliotis is clearly trying to polarize the political climate. These were charges that either withered away long ago or lapsed 10 years ago – with the joint responsibility of PASOK’s and New Democracy’s leadership at the time – both of which had been blamed by Kathimerini for canceling out each others’ scandals. Furthermore, the attempt to sharpen traditional dividing lines at a time when the political and ideological differences between PASOK and New Democracy have almost vanished is practically doomed from the start. It is far from certain, however, that this failure will not generate collateral damage in the country’s’ political sphere. Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s easy victory over his party rivals did not undo the fact that PASOK is trailing ND in opinion polls. The tactic of right-bashing that the ruling party has followed since the spring, urged by Laliotis, may seem in the eyes of some PASOK officials as the policy of last resort for holding on to power. Laliotis’s stance yesterday showed that he will not abandon this policy. This was expected as, in this case, the candidate for PASOK’s secretary was trying to defend himself and his achievements at the Public Works Ministry that the opposition was about to attack. It is admittedly sad that Laliotis failed to match the level of New Democracy’s political responsibility, which has under its present leadership closely identified itself with the government in order to help deal with the consequences of the ongoing global crisis. And, of course, it is unthinkable to compare Laliotis with opposition leader Costas Karamanlis, who recently publicly praised aspects of late prime minister and PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou. The saddest thing is that Laliotis’s stance partially taints Greece’s political sphere during a difficult time for the world, which requires a high sense of political responsibility to tackle the colossal challenges that confront us.