OPINION

Surface renewal

The prime minister is desperately trying to create an environment in which he will be able to reverse PASOK’s dismal ratings. Costas Simitis is like an amateur swimmer who is spasmodically splashing in the water, intimidated by the waves that engulf him only a few meters from the shore. «Renewal» inside PASOK coupled with an internal party crisis and a government reshuffle – under a shower of ironic comments and expressions of disappointment from inside and outside the party, incomprehensible initiatives regarding its political directorate, and hasty announcements of upcoming initiatives and handouts at a time of fiscal crisis – all this paints the current picture of the ruling Socialists. This grim picture is a result of Simitis’s insistence on exercising an ostensibly reformist but effectively vacuous policy. After two election victories, two conventions and seven years of governance, PASOK’s post-Papandreou leadership has yet to hammer out a political plan for Greece within the context of a new Europe. Simitis’s prospects are bleak. Confusion, fear of drastic reform, blatant shortcomings in the handling of current affairs, a fiscal black hole, inability to deal with corruption – and all this under the sound of a vague rhetoric about a «new» and «powerful» Greece and a «new national self-confidence.» The social and economic crisis is deepening, despite the constant inflow of EU funds. And, all of a sudden, the government is worried about politicians’ declarations of assets. During 1996-2000 Greece, then on its way to the eurozone, needed a premier more like an accountant and housekeeper. After 2000, however, Greece needed a man with good political qualities. Unfortunately, it didn’t have one.