Simitis’s ‘plan’

The general plan that Prime Minister Costas Simitis had in mind when he mentioned «political initiatives» earlier this month is gradually becoming clear. Let us remind ourselves of three well-known points of this still rather hazy «plan:» Firstly, with his authoritarian expulsion of Costas Laliotis as the party’s general secretary, Simitis apparently wanted to create the impression of splitting from the «old PASOK» and its symbols, as well as preparing for a different relationship between government and party. Secondly, with his minor reshuffle he clearly announced the rallying of the remaining cadres around the government and its leader. The notables of PASOK, effectively forced to take government positions, will now be judged exclusively on their contributions in this domain. Both decisions seem to be steering toward a centrist position – always the goal of a serious and strong government which acts according to transparent laws and objects to mixing party concerns with the work of government. The third point of the prime minister’s plan involves the proposals for a new electoral law. Here, the government is heading toward the left – not so much leftist leaders as left-wing voters – and is trying to sketch out the framework of a reborn center-left, in case political developments demand it. Should it prove unnecessary, the bonus of extra parliamentary seats for the winning party will remain valid. The proposals for reform of the electoral law are complex and unclear precisely because the desired goal is complex and unclear. The plan’s fourth point will clearly be the «chart for real convergence,» which is expected to be announced during the first week of September during Thessaloniki’s International Trade Fair. In less magniloquent language, it is a case of offering handouts – and the promise of more to come – to various social groups and, of course, to the corresponding groups of voters. There has been no reference to a fifth point on the plan. However, it is certain that there will be a fifth point (probably relating to the stock exchange), and a sixth as well, as Simitis probably wants to load the pre-election period with «initiatives.» Unfortunately, governments are always focused on elections and their «plans» are geared toward them and their hopes of victory. The country is getting plans tailored to circumstances when what it needs is long-term programs aiming for deep-rooted changes to society.

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