A show of force?

Why has the prime minister suddenly found himself in such a disagreeable position at the beginning of a «counterattack» expected to yield so much? Why do the debates regarding the reform of electoral legislation and MPs’ declaration of assets provoke quarrels within his party, when the whole point of the two initiatives was to give the political leadership a push following months of inertia? How come the government has gained so little – on a public relations level – from these initiatives? Answers to these questions should probably be sought on the basis of the acknowledgement that Costas Simitis has been trying to organize his much-publicized counterattack for the past few weeks without adequate preparation. From what we have seen, we can conclude that Simitis’s «show of force» inside PASOK – culminating in the «defenestration» of Costas Laliotis and the appointment of Michalis Chrysochoidis as the party’s general secretary – provided relief to his exasperated reformist bloc. One can also conclude that the democratic procedures being followed within PASOK and Simitis’s practice of making decisions following discussions with a few advisers, derive from Simitis’s conviction that he is correct and so further debate is unnecessary. Indeed, Simitis appears to be convinced that the party’s role should be purely decorative, as all he is offering it is a new general secretary and an Executive Bureau with little weight.