Sleeping with the enemy

It is stunning to see how PASOK’s senior cadres have reacted to developments inside their party from the day Prime Minister Costas Simitis decided to defenestrate former party secretary Costas Laliotis, to the day their newly-anointed chairman, George Papandreou, brought former conservative ministers Stefanos Manos and Andreas Andrianopoulos into the Socialist camp. PASOK supposedly has a number of cadres with strong personalities and long ministerial experience who enjoy the backing of the party base and who can guarantee a successful course for a moderate, European-type social democratic party. These cadres supposedly make up the core of a party that claims to oppose the neoliberal platform of its main rival – a right-wing party whose governance would jeopardize the national interest. Or so PASOK’s leading officials had it. And they robustly defended this view in public. They did not tire of repeating that it would be a major error to claim that there is no chasm separating the policies of the progressive PASOK from the liberal Right. These leading officials kept silent when Simitis replaced the party secretary in defiance of party procedures, then applauded a behind-the-scenes orchestrated leadership swtich. Now, they are defending Papandreou’s decision to invite and welcome the two neoliberal defectors. It is pitiful to watch leading Socialist officials parading on television shows and using the most incredible arguments to try to justify the transfer of the two hardcore neoliberals with the promise of change. Clever, educated and experienced politicians are struggling to defend a decision that negates all the political arguments which they have used for years in order to distance PASOK from the trademark policies of the ex-conservative duo.