Untimely parricide

This surely doesn’t happen often: Most cadres of big parties in the runup to the European polls are bracing themselves not for the ballot per se, but for the internal party strife that is set to break out in the wake of the vote. The main question for PASOK officials is how the June 13 vote will affect the party. There is deep concern as George Papandreou, the Socialists’ leader since January, has virtually all of PASOK’s so-called historical figures lined up against him, plus a considerable section of the reformist wing that spearheaded the party during Costas Simitis’s eight-year tenure. Papandreou’s policies and public posture underscore his conscious decision to embark on a collision course with the party bigwigs. He obviously deems this a battle that can be won – a victory that will enable him to control a party tailored to his wishes, and all with help from a narrow circle of aides and allies. In dismantling the structure of the party established by Andreas Papandreou, PASOK’s new leader may be seeking to become the founder of a new party – just as his father did. However, these times are nothing like 1974. The fall of the military dictatorship 30 years ago allowed Andreas Papandreou to finally do away with the Center Union party founded by his father, and set up a new one made up of new cadres of his own choosing. George Papandreou (who, unlike his father and grandfather, does not have the gift of charming the masses) inherited the mantle of a large party, a party with 30 years of experience and strong roots in society, rather than some embryonic movement open to political experimentation. No doubt the Socialist opposition is exhausted and in need of serious reform. But it definitely does not need a political media or lifestyle show, much less another Bonaparte.

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