While it?s all crashing down

Last Sunday, the country?s political system of the post-World War II era experienced serious damage. Greece is reliving the days of 1965 — a much more widespread version of it — and no one can blame the backstage players this time.

Outgoing PASOK chief George Papandreou will be handing over the party to his successor — Evangelos Venizelos, no doubt — cleared of all naysayers, as a ?pure? if otherwise ill-composed team of reformists.

Antonis Samaras, after spending a couple of years between his hometown of Kalamata and his Athens tennis club, worked his way into the core of New Democracy alongside Dora Bakoyannis, as they geared up to fight for the party?s leadership.

For the first time in recent history the disputes that broke out within the cores of PASOK and New Democracy were not orchestrated by the leading players aiming to gain party control. They were the result of uncoordinated individual protests over the choices made by the party leaders, which were out of sync with the demands of society — the only authority when electing parliamentary majorities.

The two valkyries of PASOK, Vasso Papandreou and Louka Katseli, did stand out from the others. The first certainly has no intention of leading the 31 MPs ousted from the party by its chief, but as far as the latter is concerned, this is not unlikely.

The fact, meanwhile, that the 21 MPs who quit New Democracy do not include anyone ?prominent? does not make what happened any less worrisome. Quite the opposite given that it is the party leaderships and their most prominent members that are in the public?s cross hairs. Expressing the politics of the right on a local level, these 21 MPs will not commit political suicide; they will find someone to lead them.

The leadership battle between PASOK and New Democracy does not make any sense today, especially as they both signed the memorandum. The most sensible thing for Samaras and PASOK?s president-to-be — Venizelos — to do would be to put their full support behind Prime Minister Lucas Papademos. If, however, they insist on going to the polls, they had best stop nagging the people about the differences between the two parties. Either way, they would be lucky to clinch a joint majority in Parliament and would have to work together perforce.

It is incredible that while everything?s crashing down, they are playing old-school politics. If they continue along this vein, Samaras and Venizelos will earn the derision of Germany and its allies, and at home they will face the unnatural rise of the left.