A new round of promises

When PASOK won its third consecutive parliamentary election in April 2000, in what was a paper-thin victory, Prime Minister Costas Simitis pledged to implement the necessary reforms that would enable the country to stand on its feet within the highly competitive environment of the eurozone. Back then, the reformist cadres flanking the prime minister heralded a «second wave of modernization,» which would be spearheaded by a new generation of modernizers, the so-called neo-reformists. After nominal convergence had been achieved, it was time to push hard for the real version. The years passed, the Socialist leadership failed to spark a new wave of change, social problems worsened, reform plans were shelved, and Greece’s supposedly powerful economy ran out of fuel. A year short of the end of Simitis’s four-year term, a worn-out leadership that is cut off from everyday reality has come out praising itself for its performance, portraying EU-funded projects as its own achievements, and blaming all criticism on unnamed business interests. These are all sad but, to some extent, expected conclusions from a leader who was never prepared to admit that he may not always be infallible or that the criticism of the decisions and deeds of his aides may sometimes be justified. But Simitis will always find a way to draw the spotlight. In his address at a party meeting on Tuesday, he chose to get around all current problems and promised to give a fresh reformist impulse, pushing for more «changes and reforms» – not imminently, but during the next four-year term. It seems that if you can’t do something after 2000, you can promise to do it after 2004. What’s more, when you find yourself in a difficult spot, you can present your new promises as a political achievement.

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