After defeat

Now that electoral campaign speeches have been relegated to the trash bin of history, and in the aftermath of its landslide defeat, PASOK must adapt to its new role. Politically speaking, the crucial issue is whether the Socialists will be reduced to a superficial discussion about the causes of the defeat or else seize the opportunity for a painful yet necessary bout of self-criticism. If they wish to regain public trust, they must exploit their time in opposition to overhaul their sleaze-ridden party. Otherwise, past sins will continue to haunt them and put the brakes on a political revival. PASOK no longer functions as a political organization which produces a synthesis of views. Rather, it has degenerated into a power mechanism, where politics has been replaced by public relations tactics. Cadres at the higher echelons of the party behave more like permanent state officials than senior political figures. They use ideas and programmatic statements as pretexts and, when necessary, as personal strategic tools. This ailing phenomenon cannot go on. Being in opposition is the best medicine. It will offer PASOK officials an opportunity to free themselves from their love of power, shake off the symptoms of degeneration, and find a sober path which will lead them to political rebirth. When the party base asked George Papandreou to «change everything,» this is what it meant, and not PASOK’s mutation into an American-style liberal democratic party. Over the last few days, Papandreou has met with senior Socialist cadres and PASOK’s four controversial recruits. Following these contacts, he must clarify what changes he deems necessary in the structure, organization and identity of his party. And reform should start with the Executive Bureau, which should be the new leadership group and not the leader’s maidservant, as happened during Costas Simitis’s time in office.

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