OPINION

Minority government

The decision by several Socialist deputies not to run in the coming elections is neither an indication of defeatism over PASOK’s electoral prospects nor of unwillingness to fight for another term. Their decision essentially – if not formally – confirms that Costas Simitis’s ostensibly reformist government has lost its majority in Parliament. Had Greece’s political system not degenerated, Simitis would have stepped down for another leader or would have asked the President of the Republic to call early elections. Nonetheless, Simitis insists on staying at the helm of the country, regardless of the tragic consequences that this entails. The only hope is that a defeat will shatter his reformist vision that wound up undermining the national fabric and encouraging the growth of corruption and entangled interests. As one who pursued a line contrary to his late predecessor and PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou, Simitis’s case is a classic example of a successor being a destabilizing force by acting outside the contours set by the majority of party cadres and supporters. Simitis came to power thanks to the support of nearly all powerful economic moguls and the state-dependent cadres of PASOK’s central committee, but his reformist line estranged him from the Socialist Party base. Despite his long experience, Simitis failed to grasp that in a parliamentary system no leader can turn a deaf ear to the people who elected him. A politician is not like a businessman who can fire his employees. The premier cannot accuse the people of failing to follow his reformist vision. A politician must act in accordance with the popular mandate; otherwise he is doomed. Simitis is in a dismal political position, not because he is ahead of his time but because he is out of sync with a reality that breeds poverty and insecurity as a result of his policies.