Preposterous expectations

Asked for a sufficient or at least plausible explanation for George Papandreou’s incongruous and provocative moves over the past few days, one of the masterminds behind PASOK’s risky political antics offered a rather cynical response. Effectively, it was: We could do nothing else. What we had was a problematic, time-worn party widely perceived as corrupt and heading for electoral disaster. Any conventional response was doomed to fail. As a result, we were forced – though not without discomfort – to introduce radical changes after grave, and highly symbolic, political decisions. In less than a month, everything has changed. This is the end of PASOK as we know it. The party’s old guard have all but vanished, and we have vested all our hope in this undertaking. It is a sincere answer that demonstrates how thoroughly PASOK is deadlocked. It largely explains the incomprehensible move on the gang of four; the historically and politically unfounded decision to join forces with Andreas Andrianopoulos, Stefanos Manos, Maria Damanaki and Mimis Androulakis; the shift from old-fashioned socialist tactics; the open election of the party chairman on Sunday; and the defection of the neoliberal duo and the enlightened children of Harilaos Florakis (the former Communist Party leader) the following day. Can PASOK’s top leadership really expect to gain from such provocative political contortions? Is there enough time to absorb the shock from such inconsistent and opportunist initiatives and turn them into an asset for the ruling party? It is rather unlikely. The risk is both heavy and obvious. Most voters can see through PASOK’s opportunism, and are likely to turn their backs on the ruling Socialists in favor of a more solid alternative – at least barring some unpredictable and unprecedented event.