Holding one’s own

A strong public relations campaign conducted by PASOK during the countdown to general elections last March did not compensate for the new party leader’s political weaknesses. Following PASOK’s election defeat, the inevitable question arose within the party about whether or not the «child of change» could handle the role of party leader. And these concerns intensified over the next two months when George Papandreou showed that he could not get over the shock of defeat, any more than he could inject any dynamism into the party which would have given it hope for a decent showing in next month’s European elections. And Papandreou’s unfortunate appearance in Parliament opposite Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis only served to cast an even darker shadow over the opposition party. In view of the above, it was a relief that Papandreou’s appearance in Parliament last Wednesday was not another disaster, as many had feared; indeed, he managed to display some liveliness as a speaker, irrespective of the substance of his assertions, which attempted to veil the unsound fiscal management of Simitis’s governments. «We held our own,» a PASOK official remarked after the session, showing how much emphasis is being put on the party not losing any more ground… But it is difficult for Papandreou to hold his own as the leader of a major political party with such minor victories…

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