The way forward for PASOK

The way forward for PASOK

Public opinion polls show the picture as it is in that moment and the trends running through the electorate. For the socialist PASOK party, the picture so far is not very encouraging.

Following the premature death of its former leader Fofi Gennimata and the public interest in the race for a new chief that followed – with six contenders expressing different trends and adding to the buzz – PASOK was looking at a stellar opportunity for a comeback, as part of a coalition government. The likelihood was enhanced by the party’s growing popularity after electing a young new leader, with some polls giving it as much as 17%.

That surge has not only lost its momentum; it is subsiding, as fatigue sets in and PASOK numbers slowly and steadily shrink to reach around 10% today. It is a slump that could not have come at a worse time, in the runup to the general elections.

In order to rebound – which would be no mean feat given the present polarized climate – PASOK will need to convince voters that its participation in a coalition, as a kingmaker and necessary partner for clinching a parliamentary majority, will benefit the country.

The ground was fertile a year and a half ago. Then there was the wiretapping affair, where the PASOK chief was one of the main victims, which offered another good opportunity for the party to strengthen its appeal, but it was lost too.

PASOK needs to regroup and launch a concerted campaign to convince the public – by presenting a balanced narrative that is defined by sincerity and self-criticism – that the party is a viable alternative for disenchanted voters of the two main parties (New Democracy and SYRIZA), but also a guarantor of stability.

The argument that the conservatives and the leftists are to blame for everything that’s wrong with the country has failed to gain any sympathy. It actually angers many voters as PASOK was one of the protagonists in the country’s woes of the post-dictatorship era.

There is only one way for PASOK to go into the elections and that is by making a sincere commitment to help spare the country a long period of uncertainty and rudderlessness through its participation in a coalition government, not just as a pragmatic and responsible power, but also as a safeguard for respect of the rules and protection of the institutions, given that the past few decades have shown that single-party governments – including those of PASOK – have a tendency to abuse their power.

It is too soon to write off Greece’s third biggest party, but its efforts to cast itself as a defining force are fast waning – and time is running out. 

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