Intended ambiguity?

Costas Simitis’s press conference last Wednesday made it very clear that the ruling PASOK party is now engaged in a critical debate over strategies regarding the possible replacement of the current premier ahead of the next elections. At the time Simitis – the man of «clear solutions» and «frank words» – should have made a categorical statement that he would be leading PASOK in general election. But he opted for the ambiguous: «I took part, I am taking part and shall continue to take part» – a statement which subsequently required «official interpretations» to convince us that the prime minister meant that he would retain his position as party leader. Naturally, the ambiguity of the premier’s statement can neither be attributed to chance nor to error. It was a strong warning to certain potential rivals within the ruling party but also to a large proportion of the mass media who have «invested» in a PASOK victory at the next elections but who disagree about who is most fit to lead the party. In other words, the intended ambiguity regarding Simitis’s succession is not preparing us for a surprise, nor is it concealing a strong card to be dealt before the elections in order to avert the predetermined outcome of the game. It merely confirms the continuing significance of the succession issue for PASOK and shows that Simitis is waiting for everybody else – both inside and outside the party – to clarify their position before he decides whether to lead PASOK in elections.