Off the party ticket

Alekos Papadopoulos seems to have started the trend a year and a half ago when he said that he would not be a candidate in the next elections. The leading PASOK cadre was followed by more than a dozen active deputies, most strikingly Costas Laliotis. The long line was yesterday joined by Elissavet Papazoe, but sources say she will not be the last one. According to corridor talk, the total number will be about 20. Papazoe’s memo to the prime minister was very critical of the government, but the most important news relates to her decision to opt out, and the reality that this is no isolated case. Each of the deputies who made a similar decision, did so for their own reasons. But there seems to be a common denominator that lends the issue a political dimension. Obviously, some drop out for fear that they will not be re-elected. But such worries are nothing new. Others are disillusioned by the political system, but such an explanation is not enough. Finally, the incompatibility rule only affects very few deputies. The most serious reason appears to be the climate inside PASOK. When the late Andreas Papandreou was in charge, no one ever felt they were being constantly excluded. When someone fell into disfavor, it tended to be for a limited time only. On the contrary, after 1996, a certain group of cadres were pushed to the sidelines, regardless of their skills, while those under Simitis’s patronage were systematically promoted. The premier treated cadres on the basis of factional, not meritocratic criteria. He blatantly discriminated even among those who backed him but who choose to maintain some autonomy. In fact, Simitis never managed to act as a leader of the whole of PASOK. Those of his supporters who, for various reasons, ceased to be his cronies, were also excluded. For them the political and psychological blow was even stronger, prompting them not to run in the coming elections.