An elusive recovery

Even Costas Simitis’s political rivals did not exclude the possibility of a minor comeback for the government and for his PASOK party after a supposedly successful European Union presidency ended in June. This was provided the right strategies were used to promote the Olympic Games along with some positive developments in Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem. There were hopes that the above, along with some pre-electoral handouts, could improve the negative political climate for Simitis. Even opposition New Democracy was preparing for battle with an opponent who, although injured, was still able to stage a recovery. Five months after the end of Greece’s term at the helm of the EU, Simitis’s government and PASOK are in a worse state than even the most pessimistic of the party’s reformers could have forecast last summer. None of the PM’s attempts to stage a serious counterattack have improved his position or his public image. His so-called charter for real convergence failed to impress everyday citizens, his Cabinet reshuffle was hardly worth mentioning, revelations about the real state of the country’s public finances eliminated the government’s strong card, and opinion polls – showing widespread disappointment with its policies – caused great embarrassment for the political leadership. Later this transformed into panic after a series of MPs stated that they would not be standing as candidates in forthcoming elections.

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