Doing the party a service

Costas Simitis finally made clear in Parliament late on Monday what he meant when he was asserting that PASOK can offer the much-needed political alternative. Political change, Simitis’s theory goes, does not necessarily imply parties’ taking turns in power. A mere reshuffling of those who wield power e.g. every eight years, is sufficient. It’s a simple process. A prime minister and chairman of a party that has been in power for eight years needs to heed the popular will as reflected in opinion polls, without awaiting the ballot box’s final verdict. When he realizes the elections are lost, he hands over the reins to some popular and «fresher» party official. Such an act of political desertion is politically immoral and personally humiliating. But that is beside the point. What matters most is one’s contribution to the party. The leader must make a strong display of altruism and seek to defend the collective good, that of the party interest, which is in jeopardy if it is weaned off the State. In the process of party transition, the successor of the deserting leader «articulates a new political discourse» which is critical and revisionist of the party’s previous rhetoric. At the same time, there is the option of voluntary retirement for most of the old guard whose members have in any case had their fill of the triumphs and trophies of many years in power. They are thus willing to step back and savor the fruits of their labor. In any case, this is necessary, if the regular and fair redistribution of state revenues among the updated list of party officials is to take place. PASOK’s strong instinct of self-preservation perhaps explains Evangelos Yiannopoulos’s warning at the last party conference. Should PASOK loosen its grip on power, the late former minister said, many Socialist officials could end up in jail.