Simitis’s dead end?

The prime minister and close aides of his under fire for alleged stock market gambling should reach an agreement on one fundamental thing. Either «every politician has his own course and this is to be judged by the people,» as noted by Simitis, or «the target of criticism is the prime minister,» as maintained by those under fire. These two diametrically opposed stances are apparently a result of the discord within the ruling party provoked by the latest crisis in its ranks. The premier’s statement indicates that he is hesitant to cover his aides and is buying time in order to reach some conclusions. Meanwhile, the stance of the aides not only fully refutes all the charges lodged against them but also reinterprets the matter as «a political assault against the prime minister.» The fact that this position was also publicly adopted by the government’s spokesman, Christos Protopappas, takes the party from confusion into chaos. If this claim of a political attack against Simitis is eventually adopted as the single, official government line, this will have been due to the dead end the prime minister has come up against, and will hardly convince even the most faithful PASOK supporters. With his decision to dismiss Deputy Public Order Minister Vangelis Malesios, Simitis has virtually set a precedent for his actions if other aides come under fire for similar charges. Indeed, after validating the claims published in the Avriani daily with his decision to dismiss a minister, it will be difficult for him to question the newspaper’s integrity if future claims arise.

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