When PASOK gets it right

Following New Democracy’s announcement of its policy platform, the ruling PASOK has gone on the counteroffensive. Having accused the main opposition party of having no plan for government, it is now basing its rejection on three arguments which appear less than convincing. The powers that be in PASOK are calling ND’s programs «poor imitations» of their own policies, a «plan to bring back the right-wing state,» and purposefully «general and vague.» Let’s be honest. All three arguments are absolutely valid. ND neither wants nor is able to proclaim any real breaks with the Simitis government’s basic options, simply because PASOK, within the bounds of globalization and self-criticism over its poor record of governance in the 1980s, has made great strides toward the liberal ideological-political camp and has been struggling to re-establish principles and values destroyed by the Papandreou governments. So there is no question of innovation, simply the continuation of a policy PASOK has been forced to adopt, but whose real representative is ND. Secondly, ND actually does need to replace the tens of thousands of PASOK cadres that have been occupying civil service posts for decades; otherwise it will not be able to govern. We hope the replacements will be made on the basis of merit, as ND leader Costas Karamanlis promises. Thirdly, it is better that a party seeks power with a general and vague platform yet implements clear, useful solutions. The Simitis government did the opposite: making clear and courageous proclamations, followed by vacillating policies. PASOK would rightly like the next elections to hang solely on the two parties’ platforms. Unfortunately, ND’s «general and vague» proclamations will be compared with specific government action. And that will be a great disadvantage for the governing party.