Belated rupture

Prime Minister Costas Simitis is making a last effort to reverse public disenchantment with the Socialist administration, beginning with a radical overhaul of PASOK’s Executive Bureau. It’s a big wager. The forced resignation of Costas Laliotis from the post of party secretary (on the pretext of moving him to a government post, which he declined) was highly symbolic. No other cadre of the Socialists’ old guard personifies PASOK’s 30-year course in quite the same way as Laliotis does. His removal accentuates Simitis’s message that he intends to bury the «old PASOK.» Indeed, should the premier go on to nominate Michalis Chrysochoidis as new party secretary at today’s Central Committee meeting, as he is expected to, he will reinforce the impression of drastic reform inside the party. As is known, Chrysochoidis has expressed radical views in the past, such as changing the name and the symbols of PASOK and effectively turning it into a modern party in line with America’s Democratic Party. Yesterday’s developments mark a severe rupture among PASOK’s leading cadres. But they also highlight the hypocrisy of the government and party elite that went as far as accusing Kathimerini of «conspiracy» when the paper dared report the crisis inside the party – a crisis that the premier himself admitted yesterday by removing the party secretary. Opposing factions inside PASOK were groundlessly accusing Kathimerini of organizing a plot to topple the ruling party when they were themselves trying to exterminate each other. In any case, the confrontation that Simitis has finally become engaged in is drawing public attention, and not without good reason. The effectiveness of Simitis’s move will be judged by the outcome. However, it is certainly belated as it is taking place only a few months ahead of the elections, which will once again change the rules of internal party struggle. It’s not certain that Simitis’s efforts will yield the anticipated results. Long-entrenched factions do not go down without a fight and they usually undertake undermining activity after their defeat. Nevertheless, any attempt to modernize political parties – even if incomplete – will be to the benefit of our political system and Greek society.

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