Fickle opinions

To avail oneself of election campaign rhetoric and especially the word «unprecedented» – a word that was repeatedly used to refer to the new ideas of PASOK leader George Papandreou – one of the really unprecedented aspects of Sunday’s contest was that all parties acted as if they were the opposition. Even PASOK used its leadership switch in an attempt to come across as the opposition to its own self, and its lengthy governance, in the hope that this would spare it criticism of its performance. With summary procedures, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, PASOK’s one-time ace, was condemned as the weakest link, while his mantra of a «powerful Greece» was dropped. The trick of not running as the party that had been in charge since 1981 (barring a brief interlude), did not ward off a landslide defeat. The electoral result was a shock to those who had rushed to believe that a few noisy PR ruses would be enough to con the public. The question of whether PASOK would fare better had Simitis remained at its helm will go unanswered. Nevertheless, many Socialist cadres were quick to give their own answers, hinting or claiming that Simitis’s stability would have been preferable to Papandreou’s fickle rhetoric and savior-like posture. However, these were the same people who until Saturday had assured us that the new leader could breathe new life into the party and bring it closer to victory and that the recruitment of prominent neoliberals Stefanos Manos and Andreas Andrianopoulos were no threat to PASOK’s political identity. Notably, not long ago, the same people had praised Simitis as «the best premier after (the 20th century statesman Eleftherios) Venizelos.» There are many ways to defend one’s credibility. Surely, trimming one’s sail to the wind is not the best way.

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