Those of us who used to claim that Costas Simitis has an incurable desire to sit on the fence, unable to take a big initiative that would pull PASOK out of the quicksand, ought to reprimand ourselves. After the drastic facelift of the Executive Bureau, PASOK definitely looks different from the Socialist-leaning party we knew until now. We shall soon see whether it will be more «united and strong.» PASOK’s political emasculation by its leader marks a dramatic but not unexpected culmination of the PM’s personal career. With a different background than his predecessor Andreas Papandreou, Simitis has always envisaged a Greek version of European social democracy that was far from the odd movement of the non-privileged that was founded by the September 3 Declaration. Even when his political peers elected him PASOK leader and premier, they were driven by an instinct of political self-preservation. It was like would-be inheritors who visit their distant old relative: They have to, but they’re hardly keen to do so. Simitis was long prepared for this break, but made the final push when the time was ripe for him. The widespread praise for Greece’s EU presidency and the polls showing him as still the most suitable person for premier may have convinced him that PASOK is the problem, and that he represents the solution. The replacement of the general secretary sealed Simitis’s symbolic grip over PASOK. Costas Laliotis’s divisive politics, his right-bashing and attendance at anti-war rallies resembled the umbilical cord of the transformed PASOK with its grass roots. Everyone knows what Michalis Chrysochoidis (who once suggested changing PASOK’s name and emblem) stands for. The first day of the new PASOK coincides with July 4, a national holiday for our big ally. Will Chrysochoidis read out a new declaration in place of the old one?