Unused to and unfamiliar with being relieved of the reins of power, which had almost become a lifestyle and ideology for the Socialists, PASOK, after the national elections, is at a loss, wavering between «regrouping» and «renewal.» Socialist party general secretary Michalis Chrysochoidis once promised, in awkward Greek, that «while in opposition, PASOK will every day prove its governability.» The party however appears baffled and unable to maintain its strength, let alone energize its voters. The only certainty seems to be a further defeat in the pending European elections, this time trailing New Democracy by an even wider margin. It was this sense of unavoidable defeat which must have prompted George Papandreou to come up a very «personal» ticket, surprising even the nominated candidates. Many others were also surprised, and not pleasantly. The first of these would have been the cadres of PASOK, the members of the central committee and other ostensibly decision-making party bodies. Surely they now realize with grief – or what may be hidden indignation – that they have in fact been left out of the «participatory democracy» once hyped as a big step forward and panacea. Instead of expanding the borders of in-party democracy, the leadership has chosen to do away with it. Another victim was Evangelos Venizelos, who, despite having been appointed to the helm of PASOK’s election campaign, now has to defend a political product of which he is largely unaware. PASOK fans who responded to the leadership’s call to vote via the Internet (www.democracy.gr) to help pick the best MEP candidates also suffered an unpleasant surprise when their proposals were never taken into consideration. They evaporated, they got lost in cyberspace. The outcome of this second popular vote shows just how virtual the first one was.

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