Deja vu, all over again

What is George Papandreou’s signal attraction in the ongoing election campaign? Nothing more than the failure of PASOK’s previous administrations, of which he was part as the holder of several senior posts. «Vote for us,» he says (or rather, «Vote for me,» as his campaign borders on a personality cult), «Vote for us because we failed, because the party has degenerated into a status quo and the government is deadlocked. Vote for us because 20 years after the ‘Change’ that never was, after the 20 years of decline, we are happy to declare that we are about to change.» Thanks to Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s idea of handing PASOK’s helm to a successor who has already been imposed from above (what a triumph for democracy), Papandreou feels that he is entitled to win votes by reproaching his own government, his own party. In order to be more convincing, he introduces the «I was only on tour» dogma – a modern version of Andreas Papandreou’s «I was only in charge.» He promises to usher in a «new era» («swinging the door wide open,» as his idolizers say), at the same time trying to erase the old era – the long period of Socialist rule – from collective memory. As PASOK’s future chairman, he calls upon people to vote for him because he «is not PASOK,» because he «dares» to «change.» His flatterers point at the firing of 10 deputies implicated in the Pachtas affair as proof of his boldness. But it seems that even Papandreou’s much-hyped boldness has its limits. When the Kaiafas Lake affair, where another government minister was found attempting to develop land on which construction is forbidden came to light, Papandreou heard no evil, saw no evil – and did nothing. It’s the same old story of hypocrisy and demagoguery.