Criticism from the Left

The reasons behind the decisions by 18 PASOK deputies to part ways with the ruling party ahead of the coming elections vary. Whether their pretexts are ostensible or real is of secondary importance. It is the political dimension that matters most. That is, the public impression caused by an exit en masse of cadres from the Socialist party. Never before has one-sixth of a major political party’s corps of deputies deserted the fold ahead of a crucial vote. Regardless of their actual motives and whether they belong to the reformist camp or to the old PASOK, the resigning deputies all seem to fall behind the same line of criticism. They have all expressed their disillusionment and their disapproval of Simitis’s administration, charging that it has abandoned PASOK’s patriotic and social profile for the sake of neo-liberal politics and policies, that it is held hostage to vested interests, and that it creates divisions within the party. To put it differently, the charges made by the disenchanted deputies are coming from the Left, and not from the Right. This is a severe blow to Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s strategy for the looming election battle – a strategy that is mainly based on right-bashing in an attempt to forge solidarity among center-left voters and other undecideds who, according to PASOK campaign chief Theodoros Pangalos, will eventually «be awakened and rally around PASOK under the threat of a right-wing political comeback.» But when Simitis and his reformist cadres are accused by about 20 senior Socialist MPs (most of whom have held ministerial posts in the past) of having tilted the Socialist party to the right of the political spectrum, how credible and effective can PASOK be in wooing center-left voters?