OPINION

Wishful thinking

Evangelos Venizelos has set out to rejuvenate PASOK by becoming chairman of the party founded by the late Andreas Papandreou.

Let Venizelos delude himself all he wants. In his first parliamentary speech as Socialist party chief, Venizelos brought nothing new to the mix. He did not attack the right in the vitriolic manner than his predecessor George Papandreou used to do, but he made sure to blame the problems dogging Greece and other European states on the fact that the continent is for the most part governed by conservative parties — New Democracy?s ideological kin. With Venizelos at the helm of PASOK, the battle against ND takes on a European dimension.

As a Socialist, of course, Venizelos would like to see Francois Hollande win France?s presidential election in the hope of counterbalancing German Chancellor Angela Merkel?s strict fiscal recipes. Doing so, Venizelos seems to believe, will boost growth, competitiveness and social justice in this part of the world. Of course, we will have to wait for a while before that happens. Meanwhile, Greeks, particularly the middle class, are being hit by fresh belt-tightening measures on a daily basis.

Drawing on his newly gained European experience, Venizelos said we should rule out political alliances among smaller European or Mediterranean nations, which have been the hardest hit by the crisis. His comment was an attempt to undermine conservative leader Antonis Samaras?s recent contacts in Spain and Portugal. However, he did say there is room for a new balance of power in Europe brought about by the people, and called for a mobilization of ?democratic forces.?

Venizelos believes to have thereby placed the Greek problem in a broader European context — which is no more than wishful thinking.

Politicians have a natural tendency for escapism. PASOK?s new leader has chosen to extend his personal struggle onto the European stage, regardless whether the commitments signed by the government mean that the winners of the next election will be up against absolute chaos.

It?s easy to see that Venizelos is in fact trying to convince the Greek middle class that PASOK is best suited of all Greece?s parties to break the country?s economic deadlock. But it?s hard to have confidence in someone who has served PASOK governments for decades.