His own business

It turns out that the scenarios PASOK’s reformist cadres dismissed as conspiracies by the government’s political foes in fact echo the political reality that has emerged within the ruling party. In his recent parliamentary speech, Prime Minister Costas Simitis mocked the scenarios that have come from the government spokesman and ministers, as well as from Simitis enthusiasts who rehash such speculation in the press. Talk about a change in PASOK’s leadership is not facetious. Not only is Simitis not denying the rumors, he is actually working on his succession in close cooperation with Socialist officials. The only thing on which Simitis insists is that he be in charge of the transition. He wants to show that he is on top of the situation in his crumbling party and that any change in leadership will only take place with his consent. Of course, the way the weary premier sees the issue is not the most significant aspect in this case. What is essential, rather, is that the issue of a change in the Socialist leadership has paralyzed the government and blurred the political and economic landscape in the runup to the elections. Unfortunately for Greece, Simitis seems to be treating the problem he caused – throwing his reformist cronies in the media into confusion – as his own business. The leader of the much-hyped reformism doesn’t seem to mind the costs brought on by the lingering uncertainty regarding the matter of his prospective replacement. Simitis’s only worry seems to be finding the best way to step down as premier and party chairman. Driven by similar motives, his aspirant successors are weighing developments in order to see what is most compatible with their own personal aspirations. As a result, the question posed by politicians and citizens is how long and at what cost the Simitis administration will stay in place.