Playing the game

Seen from one point of view, Costas Simitis’s adamant refusal to terminate, once and for all, the ongoing speculation about his possible succession ahead of the elections corresponds perfectly to his personality and behavior to date. He has never adjusted his reactions and policies in line with recommendations and pressure directed at him. The initiatives he has undertaken within his party generally comprised an element of the «surprise attack» and his behavior as a politician has been largely unpredictable. Moreover, his current persistence in not closing the matter – especially now that most of his close associates and other party members are advising that he do so – could be regarded as a consequence of this approach. And so on Wednesday, instead of delivering the anticipated «personal» statement, he chose to convey his «reassurances» via government spokesman Christos Protopapas. And because, according to sources, Simitis had curtly told his aides that he would not «play the media game,» Protopapas told reporters gathered at the Maximos Mansion to abandon speculation about Simitis’s replacement and accept that the current premier will be heading the ruling PASOK party in the forthcoming elections. Whether the press will choose to do this or not remains to be seen. But we cannot call speculation about Simitis’s succession a «media game» when we see government officials readily offering statements and opinions on the subject.