Achilles heel

No sooner had Prime Minister Costas Simitis reaped his European laurels than his government was shaken by a scandal. Regardless of the credibility of the charges published in the Avriani daily, its publisher Giorgos Kouris has succeeded in causing a political stir. This is mainly because the ground was prepared, in the sense that the majority of the public has long been convinced that politicians use their power to serve their own ends. This is not a completely fair view, but it is still closer to the truth than the premier’s ideal picture. His typical call that «whoever has evidence should take it to the prosecutor» is nothing more than an evasion. This is less because justice runs against parliamentary immunity and more because domestic corruption has taken a severe turn for the worse. Simitis’s call would make sense only if the political domain possessed the necessary institutional premises – but it doesn’t. This is why it has averted the implementation of effective institutional measures to curb the phenomenon. As concerns the issue of corruption and political and business entanglement, the Simitis government has provoked public sentiment – a fact bound to entail considerable political cost. Recent opinion polls have confirmed that the New Democracy opposition is slowly but surely widening its lead. This is not a linear process, of course, but no political developments look likely to alter this midterm trend. The recent fray will most likely reinforce the conservatives’ lead, despite the fact that the public does not nourish much hope that a political changeover could improve the situation. Still, the new scandal will eliminate any remaining hope for a Socialist comeback. This is perhaps because PASOK’s main enemy is the fatigue and the disaffection of the social strata that once backed it.