The end of ‘Papandreism’

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s choice of Karolos Papoulias as presidential candidate has led to awkward satisfaction within PASOK and displeasure among more right-wing factions of the ruling New Democracy party, both rooted in their perception of Papoulias as a founding PASOK cadre and close friend of the Papandreou family. So, according to these views, Karamanlis has vindicated «Papandreism,» as expressed by the late Andreas Papandreou. In March 1985, during the election of another presidential candidate, we saw the most characteristic act of «Papandreism» when the then prime minister deceived (the late) Constantine Karamanlis by springing Christos Sartzetakis as the ruling party’s candidate at the last minute. This was not only politically dishonest, since Papandreou had for months been publicly stating his support for Karamanlis, but also undemocratic because the Constitution says the president should be a person of widespread appeal, hence the rule that requires a 3/5 parliamentary majority. Instead, Andreas Papandreou justified his decision as an «historic break with the Right» (about half the population) as well as to perpetuate the dividing lines that had split the nation for decades. So if Karolos Papoulias wants to preserve that era, he should reject Karamanlis’s proposal which, according to the same rationale, sets him up as being «chosen by the Right,» even with the distinction of political moderation and consensus accorded him by the prime minister. Let it also be noted that Costas Karamanlis’s choice of Papoulias was not dictated by any fear of premature elections, as some PASOK cadres are saying. If ND was afraid of an early poll, PASOK would be calling for one. Costas Karamanlis’s choice of Papoulias is not the vindication but the burial of «Papandreism.»