An umbilical cord

On the tenth anniversary of PASOK’s stay in power, its late founder Andreas Papandreou said in public: «Our course took its toll. We learned how to govern, but we were subjected to the corruption of power. We learned how to manage the State but, in part, we adapted to its logic.» Eight years later, Prime Minister Costas Simitis is faced with the same problem. Today’s Executive Bureau meeting will show whether he will follow the recipe of his predecessor. That is, to separate the party from the government, introducing the incompatibility between government and party offices. When Simitis last month announced his intention to modernize the political system, he obviously meant purging PASOK of extensive corruption. Of course, the problem is not limited to the five members of the Executive Bureau who also hold government posts. It is common knowledge that virtually all of the 140 members of PASOK’s Central Committee hold key posts in the civil service; they resemble the umbilical cord between party and state power. Over time, this link has developed into an inextricable tie between the government and the state mechanism which is now the main problem of PASOK and of the political system, as the Socialists have been in power for the last two decades. The average citizen cares little if the tie has paralyzed the party mechanism. But he does mind the fact that the inextricable ties between the State and the party have created a corruption-spreading monster. In light of PASOK’s one-time slogan «PASOK knows, wants and is able,» we may say that Simitis is well aware that he has to drill deep to cut the umbilical cord between party and state power. It remains to be seen if he wants and, most crucially, is able to do so.

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