OPINION

Vacillation

George Papandreou’s political presence as new PASOK chairman has from the very beginning been dominated by sensationalist moves that lacked any continuity or consistency. First, there was the dismissal of the Socialist deputies who signed the controversial land development proposal, also known as the Pachtas amendment. Papandreou’s goal was to make a display of force and decisiveness, disregarding the fact that some of PASOK’s MPs could not have suspected the activities of a minister who had been in charge of billions of drachmas of EU funds in the past. The second shock for PASOK party members and grassroots supporters was Papandreou’s decision to place on the electoral lists two leading neoliberals who were ministers in the 1990-1993 government of Constantine Mitsotakis and two left-wing defectors who played a leading role in the charges leveled against the late Andreas Papandreou, the former Socialist premier and George’s father. These recruitments, which divided PASOK and paralyzed a section of its election base, were supposed to be a sign of Papandreou’s open-mindedness. Then there was Papandreou’s indescribable flip-flopping in the farce of the much-hyped televised debate. Papandreou started off by announcing all sorts of debates. After days of vacillation, he agreed on a single televised duel with New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, only to cancel it less than 48 hours later, this time in favor of a debate that would include the leaders of all five opposition parties. This was portrayed as a sign of Papandreou’s democratic credentials. This is not just a desperate attempt of PASOK’s spinmeisters to spare their chairman a heavy televised defeat – a legitimate objective, though it could have been achieved in a more decent manner. That’s an issue that concerns Papandreou’s own abilities and those of his close aides and is, therefore, of subordinate significance. Most importantly, all this wavering and vacillation, and Papandreou’s leaps from one subject to another, reveal the instability and the inconsistency of the policies promoted by the new Socialist leader. Papandreou seems unprepared to undertake the role he was suddenly assigned. Recent events demonstrate that neither he nor his «inner» council have a clear idea of where they want to take the country. All this underscores the consequences of the rupture caused by snubbing the party’s old guard and the involvement of his relatives and friends, who have little knowledge of Greece. The public, however, is experienced enough to be able to see through an unstable, inconsistent or unready leader. Should Papandreou’s true character be betrayed by his inconstancy, then his defeat could turn out to be heavier than expected.