A conservative society

The V-PRC poll published in Kathimerini’s Sunday edition confirmed what reformist officials like Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his foreign minister – and most likely successor – George Papandreou have stubbornly turned a blind eye to: that Greek society is conservative. How else can one interpret the fact that following the reformists’ fierce attack on the Church, 83 percent of the respondents said they opposed removing religious education from the school curriculum, while 68 percent said they objected to government plans to remove the mention of religious belief from state identity cards? Furthermore, only 19 percent of those polled expressed confidence in political parties, whereas confidence in the military hovers at 81 percent, and in courts and the Church at 71 percent. The V-PRC findings must be assessed in the light of Papandreou’s mooted promotion to PASOK party chairman and premier. Papandreou is – by conviction – much more of a reformist than Simitis and therefore a most unsuitable figure to woo a conservative society. However, driven by despair, several government officials nourish the delusion that Papandreou’s family name is enough to rally the Socialists’ fighting forces. The elder George Papandreou and his son Andreas both won elections by appealing to society’s low-income groups. Despite their demagogic bent, they expressed the hopes of a considerable section of the population for a better future. In addition, their policy was always nationalistic. The incumbent foreign minister, on the other hand, is moving in the opposite direction, scrapping family beliefs and practices. Although a family succession, George Papandreou’s ascent to the top post of Greece’s center-left would mark a repudiation of his father’s policies.

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