OPINION

A Blair for PASOK

Greek politicians and most of the country?s political parties seem to be caged in a microcosm of their own, apparently oblivious to developments at home or abroad.

This microcosm runs according to its own hierarchy and is made up of its own separate tribes, as it were. It?s always surprising to see people that would never succeed in getting a responsible post in the private sector somehow manage to carry weight within a political party.

Several second-class politicians attacked PASOK?s Michalis Chrysochoidis after he publicly declared his intention to succeed George Papandreou as the Socialists? next leader. Regardless of whether one agrees with his statements, Chrysochoidis, who has served in several ministerial posts, has shown in the past that he can fix a broken part of the state apparatus and make it work efficiently. This is not to be discounted and I wish there were more people out there who could boast a similar record.

Similarly, I have seen the vitriolic attacks against Anna Diamantopoulou over the lack of school textbooks. It seems as if her critics are trying to vilify her for being more methodical and professional than the average minister.

This may not count within the old PASOK. There are still followers of former PASOK cadres Giorgos Gennimatas and Akis Tsochatzopoulos within the party who believe that they ought to run the Socialist party. In fact, if they wanted to, they could subjugate PASOK to the will of the trade unionists and all sorts of vested interests that have so persistently put the brakes on the country?s modernization.

However, the days of a PASOK of this kind would be numbered, because the voters would not trust it, and because such a political party would be unable to hand out money, do political favors and make appointments at will.

PASOK needs a Greek version of Britain?s former Labour leader Tony Blair, someone who could radically modernize the party and move it away from the influence of unionists and vested interests. Otherwise the party will remain hostage to the traditional tribes and little barons — the sort of people who should be bought at their actual value — in other words cheap — and then sold at the price they think they are worth, or, in any case, for whatever price they would fetch among a small group of partisan supporters.