Theater of the absurd

Every party facing elections has the right – and the obligation toward its voters – to fight the good fight. Voters, for their part, must assess the means and the tactics employed by the rival parties. Election contests, like every other contest, must be fair and moral. Each party wants to win because it deems it can best serve the public good. Passion, fanaticism and painful concessions serve no ulterior motives but the common interest. All this in theory, of course. Nevertheless, election races abide by some standard rules regarding the plans of the competing parties and the consistency and persuasiveness with which they back them. PASOK has blatantly breached these rules. The ruling party invokes its achievements and seeks to renew the public mandate so as to get on with an ostensibly successful rule. Hence, it honors the architects of the outgoing administration and depicts them as guarantors of successful continuation. By its nature, the role of the ruling party is a defensive one, while that of the opposition is offensive, for it must prove that the government’s tenure has been counterproductive and convince voters that it can provide a better alternative. Since the election of George Papandreou as PASOK leader, the party’s campaign has been like theater of the absurd. Costas Simitis’s successor has undertaken two ridiculously incompatible roles in a one-man act. On the one hand, he is trying to convince Socialist supporters that all his talk about the new, as well as his unprecedented moves, are only aimed at ensuring a fresh and previously unhoped-for victory. On the other, Papandreou is calling upon the rest of the electorate to vote for him so that he can rid the country of a bankrupt PASOK. What the scriptwriters, directors, protagonists and stooges in this show seem to have forgotten is the spectators, who have no reason or interest in sharing the baseness of the troupe.