Overhauling PASOK

Calm and with an ever-present smile, PASOK leader George Papandreou is about to get on with renewing his party, as he promised. Having lost the elections, some of his aides claim, Papandreou is prepared to brave the severe storm that is likely to break out in the Socialist camp. Papandreou’s understanding of «renewal,» of big changes and of radical breaks with the past, will soon become clear. Furthermore, Papandreou will have to find a way to deal with Socialist cadres who blame the landslide defeat of the «big democratic faction» on the new chairman. Papandreou will naturally try to control the new party with a leadership, structure and apparatus of his choice. He has every right to alter PASOK’s political identity since he does not like what he inherited from his predecessor, after serving in the party for years. However, Papandreou should realize that for the benefit of PASOK itself and the country’s political system, his top priority should be to pull his party out of the quagmire of corruption and conflicting interests. Papandreou’s talk of radical change will amount to nothing but hot air unless the Socialist leader manages to overhaul his sleaze-ridden party. For no political change and no new synthesis can emerge if PASOK continues to be the spoilt child of conflicting interests. In Sunday’s elections, PASOK was punished for the political arrogance and the provocative social stance of its cadres who nourished ties with business interests. The result was a slap in the face for the new egoism of Costas Simitis’s reformists, a group that Papandreou joined after 1996. PASOK is in for more defeats if Papandreou is reduced to maintaining his grip over the party, with help from a small group of trusted officials. However, Greece’s labor force is not interested in that sort of «change.»

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