OPINION

Myth-making

The retirement of Prime Minister Costas Simitis from active and combative politics was necessary for the development of political life, but above all for PASOK itself. Ever since the elections in 2000, the ruling party has stagnated, with administrative policies that are uninspired and lacking in broader scope, and over which a growing stench of scandal hovers. Simitis’s so-called modernization turned out to be no more than a flashy slogan which never morphed into an organized and consistent program of changes with continuity. When the slogan was stripped bare, so was Simitis. He had nothing to offer the Greek people or his own party. He remained the leader of a poor government, the target of severe criticism from across the political spectrum and the butt of widespread popular disapproval which swelled into a general demand for elections. Last May, when Kathimerini – acting responsibly and opportunely – pointed out the need for Simitis to withdraw, it aroused the ire of the premier himself and of his circle, and sparked accusations of conspiracy in which the opposition was allegedly also a participant. Now Simitis himself sees his withdrawal as obligatory, and everyone is eager to keep his distance, although no one feels the need to apologize for the slanderous attacks on Kathimerini. How a party appoints a successor to the leadership is entirely its own business in which no outsider has a say. Foreign Minister George Papandreou is a politician who is liked even by his opponents. He is low-key, well-bred and polite. Whether he is a suitable successor to Simitis as the leader of PASOK in what will probably be a difficult time to come remains to be seen. It’s a gamble, as it would be for anyone else. Neither his name nor the myth-making around his gentle political presence in which some of the media have already engaged can guarantee his future. The political arena is tough and that is where politicians are made and tested. Luckily or unluckily, political talent, like any other, is not inherited. And myth-making, regardless of the intention, ultimately misleads and manipulates the public. We shall judge Papandreou by his actions and his initiatives. We shall not judge him either by his name or by the myths that are already beginning to build up around him.