OPINION

The state we’re in

The replacement of Costas Laliotis with Michalis Chrysochoidis as PASOK’s general secretary was greeted as an historic and heavily symbolic change. This may indeed be so, in the light of Laliotis’s role within PASOK in the post-1974 era. Indisputably, he was one of the figures that shaped PASOK’s profile and for many, he still expresses the Socialist party’s conscience. Chrysochoidis envisages a new party that will function along new lines, but it is too early to form a judgment. This would all be of little interest to the general public had «the party» been clearly demarcated from the State. Over the past two decades, however, the party has grown inextricably intertwined with the State. It has crept into the state mechanism and eventually managed to dominate it. It has undermined the character of the public sector and the recruitment process, and influenced decisions, big or small. The two grew so closely interconnected that many consider Greece as a relic of old-type socialism. According to a former national economy ministry official, «during the past few years, the party appointed the administration, it swept away everything else in its path,» to the extent that a minister might have no say over key posts. A close look at the correlation of forces shows that the party has come to prevail at local level and at the level of state-owned companies and organizations – all this at the expense of Greek society. The recent changes are thus truly substantial. It will be interesting to see if they will also lead to the State’s release from the party. This may be the biggest challenge facing Chrysochoidis today. We do not know whether he will try to disentangle party and State. However, the question is crucial not only for PASOK, but also for New Democracy, whose cadres are looking forward to the time they will stage their own takeover of the ill-fated State.