New ‘change’ almost a farce

Until just a few weeks ago, the prime minister and his government were continuing to assure the public that their main concern was to advance the government’s work until the end of its four-year term. When the first rumors began to fly around Athens of a likely change in the PASOK party leadership before the elections, the government spokesman denied them in no uncertain terms, often aggressively and sarcastically when directed at the originator of these rumors (naturally, the «Right»). «No basis in fact» was how he termed any discussion of Simitis stepping down. At the same time, the government continued to boast of the high quality of its work. When the opposition criticized the prime minister’s economic policy, the prime minister and his associates did not hesitate to reprimand it for harming and even undermining the national economy. All this suddenly ceased to be true. Certain developments within PASOK eventually made a joke out of what the government had been claiming for months. Before 2003 was out, it emerged that it was not «sinister circles» or «right-wing» newspapers that had raised the issue of a leadership change in PASOK. Leaks by various members of the government had been correct and nothing had «no basis in fact,» as the unfortunate government spokesman had been claiming. So now all the energy Simitis has left is being spent not on advancing the government’s work, but on finding ways for PASOK to avoid an electoral defeat in the near future – a defeat that those in the party feel is a given if the current leadership is retained. At the moment, no one in PASOK appears to know exactly what is going to happen with Simitis and his «dauphin,» George Papandreou. It is only a matter of time before the whole issue descends into a farce. In practice, there is little if any adherence to any democratic process in PASOK itself.

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