Dubious practices

In the belief that freedom of expression is not a matter of the view of the majority, a number of observations should be made. From the perspective of straight democracy – a practice that George Papandreou has promised – the number of 1 million party members and so-called friends who voted him Socialist party chairman is much bigger than that of the 150,000 party members but, at the same time, much smaller than the 3 million voters who chose PASOK in the last vote. General elections in Greece tend to either install or remove leaders. When the late Constantine Karamanlis established his National Radical Union (ERE) in 1956, he immediately called polls that appointed him leader. Tactically speaking, appealing to the party base and, more importantly, friends of the party was a smart move. A month ahead of the polls and using a more lively and more authentic means than public surveys, Papandreou managed to energize and rally his fighting forces on which his counterattack will be based. Most importantly, he managed to monopolize the media and impose images that project his own personal style. In short, Papandreou got PASOK back into the game. No doubt all these fresh political developments will transform the pre-election landscape – and this is something that PASOK’s rivals have to take seriously into account. On the other hand, it should be pointed out that such means and techniques do nothing to promote the cause of democracy nor to inaugurate much-heralded change, or a new relationship between politics and the citizen. Democracy presupposes a democratic subject, democratically expressed arguments and counterarguments. It presupposes political confrontation that will produce the most appropriate policies and the most suitable political leader. Democracy also presupposes a democratic framework in which citizens can freely exercise their rights, and not by way of gracious permission. Finally, the relationship between citizens and politics is one of trust and credibility – the area where PASOK is most sorely lacking. This problem has never been solved with omnibus elections. In fact, such practices are often aimed at disguising the problem. Some people were surprised when we drew parallels with foregone eras. They shouldn’t worry. Any similarities are restricted to the comical aspect and they pose no threats. At least we can be thankful for that.