OPINION

The ‘conspiracy’

Kathimerini has in crucial events in the past (such as the Imia crisis, the fiasco surrounding the arrest of Kurd rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, and the issue of social security system reform) stood by Prime Minister Costas Simitis – as it would have done with every other elected decision-maker faced with tough issues. Without abandoning its critical approach, the newspaper backed and encouraged Simitis’s reformist efforts, driven by the belief that the modernization of the state administration, the economy and society is a national necessity that demands constant and consistent effort. Reformist policies in the past have always aimed at promoting convergence with the more advanced countries of the West and, these days, with the members of the European Union. Simitis himself has acknowledged Kathimerini’s support in his efforts. However, after the 2000 parliamentary elections, and while Simitis – enjoying a fresh public mandate and a tighter grip on the levers of power inside the Socialist party – was expected to embark on a series of groundbreaking political and social reforms that would entail political conflict and a comprehensive and consistent reformist program, he instead backed down and was held ransom to a number of problems, leading to the party’s increasing stagnation. Inevitably, Simitis was soon reduced to being an administrator or arbiter of vested interests, a situation that gradually gave rise to a so-called para-state of entangled interests which absorbed a great deal of state and EU funds. This development, coupled with the gradual takeover of the state by the governing party, have sounded the alarm over the health of our democratic system and its institutions. Skepticism over this trend is reflected in widespread public disillusionment and the public’s demand for change. Six months ago, a careful analysis of these developments and information coming from the already uneasy PASOK led to the conclusion that politically speaking, Simitis was already a spent force. Kathimerini did not hesitate to back this view and to encourage the prime minister to find a smooth exit strategy. Revelations over scandals involving Simitis’s close aides intensified calls for Simitis’s resignation – a move that would benefit Greece and himself personally. Kathimerini’s criticism was met with blasphemy and slander from the prime minister and his aides, who accused the newspaper of plotting against an elected government. Six months on, and with great delay for himself and the ruling party, a humiliated premier is forced to pass on the reigns of the party leadership, and no one in the government seems to feel any obligation to apologize to Kathimerini over the slanderous allegations.