Papandreou’s vote

This will be the first time, George Papandreou’s aides say, that a party chairman is to be elected not only by party members – estimated at around 145,000 – and the 4,500 convention members, but also by «direct popular vote.» The architects of this groundbreaking poll estimate over 500,000 citizens will turn out to choose Papandreou as PASOK’s «new and all-powerful» leader. Rather than questioning the constitutional legitimacy or rationality of the process, one might be tempted to raise an objection and demand the cancellation of the poll on purely political grounds. This is a poll in which not only all party members are eligible to vote but also party «friends.» As a result, the total number of votes needed – as in every other election – to determine the majority and the minority is more or less given. This includes the 3 million voters who voted for PASOK four years ago plus an unknown number of party «friends» who are not members. If only 500,000 people show up on Sunday to vote for Papandreou, as the organizers expect, his candidacy will have been blatantly rejected. This is because the above number represents just 17 percent of all PASOK voters. But all of those who are supposedly relieved at the leadership switch should turn up to confirm the nomination. Their participation en masse is also needed for two more reasons. First, because Papandreou is the sole candidate and any mass abstention would be read as a sign of disapproval or indifference. And second, because his pledges about breaking with old mentalities and inaugurating a new era should by signed up by the greatest number of voters. Papandreou’s nomination by a mere 500,000 voters on Sunday would mean that his candidacy and political pledges have been snubbed by at least 2.5 million supporters – not to mention any non-party member «friends.»