OPINION

Poorly timed tactics

PASOK’s spin doctors are reluctantly realizing that opposition New Democracy’s predominant lead remains significant and steady regardless of the «illicit» benefits the government is offering voters in the runup to general elections. They simply cannot understand how tactics that have brought them political gains in the past are today viewed with indifference or even distaste by the very citizens they target. In their unwillingness to acknowledge this, the government’s advisers are forgetting something very significant – that before the party resorted to unscrupulous pre-election tactics, it tried to clinch its recovery with a variety of, chiefly contradictory, techniques. In June 1999, PASOK lost the euro-elections to ND with a gap of three percentage points – a lead the opposition party maintained until parliamentary elections in April 2000. Then PASOK managed to close the gap and beat ND by one percentage point using a completely different approach from its current one: It promoted accession to the eurozone as its national goal, asked for solidarity from citizens and other parties, and managed to convince a small but critical section of the electorate that it was the most reliable administration to make Greece a part of Europe. It was after this goal had been achieved and the government turned to the country’s domestic problems that its demise began. Its adoption of a more aggressive political style worked against the tactic of moderation and conciliation that Simitis had used until then.