OPINION

Bringing back the old

There is, no doubt, pressure on PASOK’s and New Democracy’s old guards from the party base for them to step aside. Such calls are widely seen as reflecting a desire for a renewal of the country’s political elite. However, this popular demand is also a vague one, as is the concept of renewal itself. Dictionaries define renewal as reform, replacing the old with the new. At the same time, however, the word has the meaning of repeating or extending – like, for example, extending a contract. Similarly, it is said that PASOK’s and ND’s party barons ought to make way for new, untainted and vigorous politicians. This is according to the first definition of renewal. The messiah-like George Papandreou, on the other hand, is expected to renew, that is to restore, or rather, resurrect the party image as it was under his father. As an aspirant PASOK leader, he tries to come across as a fine replica of PASOK’s founder renewing (that is, repeating) the movements, the vocabulary, the arguments and slogans of his father. It is not rare in Greece that sons and daughters of politicians ply the same trade, but in the case of Papandreou it is the first time a third generation aims to become prime minister. For this reason, he should himself be trying to play down his family legacy and portray himself as an independent, innovative and reformist politician. Above all, he should rethink his claims to be part of a successful Simitis government while at the same time being nostalgic of, and trying to reinstate, the Papandreou era. As for us, the citizens, we must clarify what we mean when we call for renewal. While demanding that the time-worn, corrupt politicians step down, we should also be aware of the even greater peril of allowing parochial and failed policies to be merely recycled.