PASOK’s existential crisis

For the past couple of weeks there have been those who have strived to save PASOK following party leader George Papandreou?s retreat — if, in fact, he steps down. Some of them are leading figures of the Socialist party who tried to ?save? Greece when they were inflating the deficit artificially and dragging the country?s name through the dirt, believing that this was the way to crush the conservative opposition, until they ultimately imposed the troika as the absolute regulator of Greece?s finances.

No rational person is interested in the developments inside the party that has left its mark on Greece?s political life since the end of the junta and now seems to have run its course. A PASOK led by one of the hopefuls who are beginning to emerge from its ranks would be nothing more than a caricature of self-styled liberalism and a slave to rhetoric about the hapless, mistreated citizens, which they created.

Most significantly, a PASOK without a member of the Papandreou family at its helm is essentially an effort to revive the Costas Simitis system of politics, which can no longer keep up with developments and which is supported by a minority within the party that has little influence on the traditional voters of this particular party.

With George Papandreou as its president, PASOK clearly faces the risk of a crushing electoral defeat. With a ?reformist? at the top, it will simply die out gradually because it has no rational place as a political entity in the country at a time when the changes that need to be made will lead to a rise in unemployment and insecurity and a decline in earnings.

Either way, it is up to the ?progressive? cadres of the party to settle the issue. What matters is PASOK?s legacy, and that is one of shaking the trust of the average Greek in the European system and in the country?s political status quo. The problem, in other words, is that various individuals and groups within the party are sowing the seeds of a vengeful and populist backlash. Those who believe that this trend can be reversed by the usual methods employed to ?enlighten? the public are sorely mistaken.

The end of the post-dictatorship era will be marked by a sweeping PASOK defeat in the next general elections, the razing of the economic system this party created during its period in power and the complete shredding of the social fabric. It will also be about the marginalization of all the protagonists of this period, who will eventually fade from the memory of all except those who study history as a profession. Some will continue to harp on, however, and it is not unlikely that George Papandreou will be among them.

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