Marching on toward chaos

The comprehensiveness of the announcement by the prime minister’s spokesman Friday concerning the succession procedure in the ruling PASOK party took the public by surprise. Strikingly, Costas Simitis will meet with his aspirant successor George Papandreou at the premier’s home on Tuesday, thereby underscoring his «deep respect» for the minister’s political judgment. Instead of consulting the latter on the impending, radical changes, Simitis will merely announce his decisions to the premier-in-waiting. The same applies to party secretary Michalis Chrysochoidis, with whom Simitis will meet earlier that day. For the past eight years, Simitis has come under severe pressure from party barons, who would treat him like a political misfit. He is now taking his revenge. He is making plans during his stay at the village of Karakohori, while PASOK’s Executive Bureau will have to wait until Wednesday to learn a decision which they can only approve. Were Simitis not a child of the Enlightenment, one would be tempted to think that he picked the dates according to the Orthodox tradition where on the eve of the Epiphany all wicked «goblins» are put to flight, catharsis is achieved, and everyone is marching on toward victory or, more precisely, chaos. Europe has not seen such deep respect for democratic procedures since the times of monarchy, but Simitis does seem to care about formalities – so long as he is not defeated by his conservative rival. For his part, Papandreou is preoccupied with communication tricks, while his political rhetoric is reduced to rehashing homilies about the Olympic Truce or a multicultural society. However, as the leader of PASOK, Papandreou will be responsible for the electoral result. And if there is one person to have presaged PASOK’s defeat, that is Simitis. If PASOK could really turn things round, he would put up a fight himself.

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