PASOK in disarray

Greece’s Socialists are mired in a number of serious problems. Communication between PASOK leader George Papandreou and the party’s senior cadres has become faulty at best; preparations for the pending party convention are lagging; and the new chairman’s ideas for a «new PASOK» have yet to convince other party officials. Amid the uncertainty, some party bigwigs are backing PASOK’s leader, others are playing a more passive role – not always willingly – and yet more are trying to exploit this nebulous landscape to advance their own objectives. Although PASOK still lacks well-defined ideological and political contours, Papandreou and some of his senior cadres have indulged in scathing criticism of the conservative administration – often drawing inspiration from views and comments printed in the pro-PASOK press. PASOK’s hard-line opposition tactics have recently targeted the government’s foreign policy and, in particular, the issue of Greek-Turkish relations (also in view of the coming EU summit meeting on December 17). The Socialists’ knee-jerk reactions, which are clearly aimed at keeping the party’s disillusioned grass-root supporters happy, have made scant contribution to the public debate. Papandreou (a former foreign minister) acts as if he has played no role in shaping Greek foreign policy in recent years. Moreover, the Socialist officials who now make statements on Turkey’s EU membership prospects seem to ignore basic aspects of the issue – including the essence of the Helsinki summit declarations to which they often refer. All at a time when the government’s stand on Turkey is a clear continuation of the policies initiated by Costas Simitis and George Papandreou. If a crucial foreign policy issue has degenerated into a subject of political bickering, Papandreou is uniquely to blame.