Veritable mishmash

The announcement of the electoral alliance between New Democracy and Stelios Papathemelis, former PASOK member of Parliament and leader of the just-born Democratic Renewal Party, marked the first significant political «transfer» of the campaign. PASOK appears to be fighting back with its expected partnership with former conservative deputies Stefanos Manos and Andreas Andrianopoulos. Such shifts are nothing new in politics. But although senior party officials have switched sides in the past, there is still something special about this case. Manos and Andrianopoulos are both strong proponents of the most extreme version of neoliberalism and stern enemies of the welfare state. As such, they stand at odds with the ideological profile of an ostensibly socialist party like the new PASOK. It will be interesting, in the coming days, to hear ruling party cadres lashing out at New Democracy’s social security proposals, while being keen to defend their social face. Less than a month before the ballot, election planners are naturally concerned only with victory. A number of ideological and political concessions are being made at the altar of electioneering, but even this opportunistic tactic has its limits. PASOK’s freshly anointed leader is not making an overture on both sides of the political spectrum. He is essentially abolishing the identity of the Socialist party. His rhetoric about the new and the future cannot disguise reality. PASOK is turning into a veritable mishmash, without a clear ideology or program. Its point of reference will be an all-powerful leader, while its common aim will be a share in the spoils of victory. It is both interesting and indicative of the climate that a move sure to cause a storm just a few weeks ago is now unanimously welcomed in the party. It would be premature to measure the impact of these transfers on the election race. On a political level, however, the impact is extremely significant. The political landscape is undergoing radical change. PASOK is entering a phase of transformation which will, sooner or later, affect the political system as a whole. True, Papandreou is a pioneer in the deconstruction of the current state of affairs but, despite its bright mantle, his political promise has gray if not anti-democratic tones. Papandreou’s attempt to undo traditional dividing lines between parties does more than overcome reactionary convictions. Its aim appears to be the abolition of the very essence of politics, which is the confrontation between different ideas and plans. Confrontation is gradually substituted by the metapolitics of lifestyle. This may be able to attract some votes, but it falls short of solving the problems of society. It is politics with a use-by date.