No surprises

No surprises. The «brand-new» era, as George Papandreou described it, was presented to us according to a perfectly planned setup. Had there been the slightest possibility of rebellion or protest, PASOK would, no doubt, have followed the beaten track of holding a convention. This would also have happened had there been two or three candidates, even «as a formality,» as union leader Christos Polyzogopoulos said, announcing the name of the sole candidate – that is, of a leader who was already virtually enthroned but waited for the popular mandate. Amid all these novelties, here is one more: Never before has such constant reference to the new led to such a return to the past. The past of the absolute leader (whose power is inherited by virtue of his name); the past of 99 percent approval; the past of a leader who knows he does not need to speak his mind in order to be convincing. His signature attraction is not what he says but the fact that he exists. The «political commodity,» in this case, is not Papandreou’s vague visions but the fact that his very presence is a symbol in itself. The road from Kalentzi to Killeler is a constant display of symbols that seeks to capitalize on sentiment alone. Clear talk is made redundant. Nor is the stunning turnout a surprise. In its 30-year presence and 20-year rule, PASOK has established strong – sentimental, ideological and material – ties with a great section of society. Since the choice was presented as an «either George or chaos» dilemma, naturally the supports mobilized en masse to confirm Papandreou’s new status and, above all, to confirm themselves. Is it a new era, as a PASOK slogan has it? Let’s not expect too much. Keep in mind that back in the 2000 polls, PASOK’s slogan also heralded a «New Era.» Fine words are often short-lived.