OPINION

PASOK?s dead poets society

In a confession that featured all the elements of a self-eulogy, outgoing PASOK leader George Papandreou resorted to a few verses by poet Yiannis Ritsos during a speech at a party conference last weekend.

Meanwhile, the next leader of the Socialist party, Evangelos Venizelos, managed to outdo Papandreou in terms of the amount of poetry quoted, though he failed to impress, after drawing upon works which had been used repeatedly: some Dionysios Solomos and a few references to George Seferis.

Christos Papoutsis, who up until that moment had been seen as the second contender for the party leadership, initially decided to counterattack with a few words penned by the poet of the Aegean, as Odysseas Elytis is usually referred to. Eventually, he was dissuaded following sensible reflection, especially after considering the Samina disaster, which, no doubt, must have brought back bitter memories even to him, someone who considers himself ?not responsible? for the deadly 2000 ferry sinking.

However, the conference did not cover the entirety of the poetic spectrum. Missing from it all was satire master Costis Palamas, whose piercing verse would have no doubt burst the literary bubble.

And while political leaders slashed the short swords of their ambition through poetic laurels, their supporters, those of whom who were not obviously dissatisfied, came up with their own little verses, or rather, unearthed handy sound bites from the party?s storage space, ?With Vangelis together in the new age,? chanted Venizelos?s supporters, while ?The young with Christos Papoutsis? was the motto of those vouching for the former citizens? protection minister and his ?preventive? tear gas methods. If PASOK?s ?young? people are getting so old — or that desperate, for that matter — and are unable to come up with another horse to back besides Papoutsis, what are the chances of the revitalization and rebooting announced by the eventually uncontested leader — Venizelos?

Venizelos (and those who hurried to join his flattering chorus, adapting to the new leadership in chameleon fashion) presents himself as a politician who carried a cross which was not his own. Yet his attempt to translate his efforts into a harsh personal chapter reveals just how faithfully he applies Solomos?s sayings. Exactly what kind of ?new age? will it be given that the country?s financial course for the next few years is predetermined, not least thanks to his own efforts — he who was the first to concede, rather unmoved, that we lost part of our national sovereignty?