Demand for change

“Change is the most constant demand in human history,» a veteran politician said recently, regarding PASOK’s imminent leadership switch. Demand for change runs high in Greek society these days, part of PASOK’s political and economic legacy. Most people believe that, apart from a few positive aspects, prolonged governance is harmful overall. They feel that the vested interests identified with PASOK for the past 20 years have acquired too much power, preventing the emergence of new forces. It is widely held that the system has distorted the rules of the game, defying the principle of equal opportunity and giving rise to conditions of oligopoly. Quick and provocative moneymaking, the sharp redistribution of wealth, and the plunge of a section of society into poverty have triggered a wave of disillusionment coupled with demands for change. Driven by a strong instinct for self-preservation energized by the looming defeat, PASOK is now embarking on a big internal change. Recent internal party developments are nothing but an attempt to meet the public demand. The question is whether George Papandreou is capable of channeling this demand for change, thereby depriving New Democracy of this asset. True, the foreign minister will have a chance to adopt new political rhetoric, to present a fresh version of reform and, above all, to play with the feelings of the people still charmed by his family name. But he will be bound otherwise. The system of power remains unchanged, the renewal campaign and the renaissance of the crumbling party will be backed by the same people who support the current power structure. Willing as he may be to bring about change, Papandreou is held ransom to the old. The promised change will probably look incomplete and problematic, like those half-finished restorations of old buildings.

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