Protesting too much?

Government spokesman Christos Protopapas may insist that «there is no reason to comment on the (now famous) statements of (Foreign Minister George) Papandreou,» senior party and government officials may keep reassuring us that «Simitis will lead us in elections,» and Papandreou himself may try to show us that the matter is closed by studiously avoiding making any comments or clarifications. (And why not, when he is leaving his earlier remarks to stir debate?) However, the activities, gossip and little jokes behind the scenes suggest that the subject rekindled by the foreign minister with his recent remarks – namely that of a likely successor to Prime Minister Costas Simitis ahead of elections – is still very much alive and preoccupying politicians. Papandreou on Tuesday briefed a parliamentary committee on developments in foreign affairs, but committee members appeared to be far more interested in the minister’s recent comments (and, in particular, his intentions), and they made this very clear. New Democracy deputy Petros Molyviatis – the party’s coordinator for defense and foreign affairs matters – accidentally (?) addressed Papandreou as «Mr Prime Minister,» prompting laughter among the committee members. «That would be your problem,» ND MP Manolis Kefaloyiannis remarked to his PASOK peers, prompting PASOK deputy Panayiotis Kritikos to retort: «Well, actually, it would chiefly be your problem.»