Unanimous PASOK

The events of last Friday at the Olympic Weightlifting Center in Nikaia were neither a political party congress nor that of some cultural association. Even Ceausescu used to convene congresses, as did other nations’ dictators who were in the habit of taking frequent recourse to the people under regimes where political liberties had been completely abolished. Even Stalin frequently convened party congresses, some of them in fact have gone down in history as landmarks on his relentless course toward totalitarianism. In Greece today, fortunately, conditions are completely different; any similarities between the ad hoc PASOK party congress and those notorious gatherings elsewhere are more in the nature of the comical relationship between a bad copy and the original than the revival of a threat or a nightmare. However, similarities there are. No substantiated proposals were made, and therefore neither were any counterproposals regarding one of the two purposes for which the congress was supposedly called – the amendment of articles in the party charter. For this there is no precedent in the congresses held by Ceausescu or Stalin, where for every decision there was at least a substantiated proposal. The second and most important issue of proposing a candidate party president evolved in an even less democratic fashion: Not only was there no proposal explaining why the congress should support the candidacy of George Papandreou, but neither was there any other candidate, to give party members a choice. It is hypocritical to claim that anyone else could have submitted a candidacy. The same could have been claimed by Ceausescu or Stalin. For years, it has been common knowledge that certain PASOK cadres have nursed ambitions of leading the party. The fact that these ambitions were dashed by a «course toward the (party) base» means that democracy within the party proclaimed by George Papandreou is neither «participatory» nor even democratic. The other democracy we will fortunately be in a position to defend – with the first battle scheduled for March 7. The ad hoc «congress» heard the three appointed speakers, discussed nothing, and no objections were heard (within a party we all know to be a simmering cauldron). All were applauded according to their due and, there being nothing else to do, decisions were made unanimously by acclaim and everyone went home quietly. The fiesta was to be completed yesterday with the election of the new «leader» by the party «base» and its «friends» in a manner that has this time stretched the bounds of constitutional legality. It is the first example of «open participatory» – and whatever else one wants to add – democracy.