OPINION

Relations of trust

It is probably better not to discuss the extent to which the election of a chairman of PASOK by the party base and «the people» constitutes a new beginning and a pioneering start. Manipulating the party base is infinitely easier than persuading a genuinely representative body aware of its mission. The adoption of forms of «direct democracy» by the emerging new leader of PASOK is not necessarily democratic, but smacks more of a stage director’s touch. From this point of view, not only is this not a pioneering start; it is a bad start that aims to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Let us pause for a bit longer on the second part of the brief statement by George Papandreou, that this «pioneering start» will lead to «new relations, of trust, with the citizen.» This is a far meatier issue, and George Papandreou will have to abandon generalizations, speak to the point and make specific commitments. The government’s relationship with citizens today is marked by the profoundest suspicion of the PASOK government. The latter, especially these last few years when the lines between party and State have blurred, has been transformed into a central administrator of relations of clienthood, from the very lowest level right up to the top of the pyramid of entangled interests. George Papandreou, who aspires to forge policy alongside an ongoing «dialogue with the people,» can confirm this abject reality for himself, not in popular congresses but in the antechambers of all the ministries (including his) and state services, where party go-betweens stand cheek-by-jowl to regulate their clients’ relations. If politics meets with general contempt, this is not a sign of the times but rather of bitterness and disappointment in the government’s unreliability and with official policy. If he sincerely has in mind some form of «relationship of trust» with the people, «beyond mechanisms and establishments,» Papandreou must do two things: first of all, reveal the situation as it is today and analyze the causes and condemn those responsible, whether people, interests or mechanisms; and secondly, tell us with what specific measures, with what policy and with what people he will seek power, and thus restore relations of trust with citizens. If he consistently and honestly follows this line of thinking, he will soon come to the conclusion that PASOK itself will have to be dissolved, for that is where the statist mechanisms that manage clientelistic relations and vested interests were formed. He won’t do it, he can’t do it, and so the only hope of restoring relations of trust is the defeat of PASOK in the elections.