OPINION

A false dilemma

Is Prime Minister Costas Simitis obliged to choose between honorable defeat and a devious victory? All his choices and decisions during this pre-election period seem to confirm the fact that Simitis really believes he faces such a dilemma. Unfortunately – not just for himself but for the rest of the country as well – all evidence suggests that he will end up going for the second option. And his mistake is not in the choice he is about to make but in his conviction that such a dilemma really exists. Simitis has been in politics for 25 years, during which time he has created a specific image on which he has based his political development. His election as Andreas Papandreou’s successor was made on the basis of certain criteria – the most significant of which was the «rebirth» of PASOK, that is, the abandonment of established opinions. And even if, in practice, this was not implemented by PASOK MPs, it was regarded as a «necessary evil» for the party to stay in power. On the other hand, many believed that Simitis was not just playing the role of reformer but that he actually believed what he preached. This helped him to clinch two successive election victories and to come to be regarded, even by party dissidents, as PASOK’s «important political asset.» And this is because he was able to convince a critical section of the voting public of the earnestness and effectiveness of his reformist efforts.