One-man rule

Nine months after its election defeat, PASOK has yet to reform itself. Most of the early confusion has diffused, particularly as the government’s shortcomings become more evident. In a way, both major parties have yet to find a sure footing in their new roles. In the forthcoming Socialist convention, PASOK will have to outline its ideological contours and organizational structure. Both parties admit the need for a radical shake-up, but they mean it in different ways. PASOK’s new political identity will largely determine whether the party manages to overcome its representational crisis, as it were. Success in establishing in-party democracy will also determine the party’s political effectiveness. The prospects are grim on both fronts – particularly the latter. Under Costas Simitis’s rule, the Executive Bureau was reduced to maidservant status. George Papandreou has gone a step further. He wants a powerless advisory forum, not a fully fledged political body. Hence, he does not want the Political Council (the successor to the Executive Bureau) to be elected during the convention, as that would lend it more political legitimacy. The old and newer barons are keen to maintain their status but Papandreou’s moves have created much apprehension within PASOK. Still, resistance is feeble. Theodoros Pangalos was the only one to give voice to corridor talk, asking for institutional recognition of the different trends within the party in a bid to put a check on the authoritarian whims of the chairman. The post-1974 type of party is in crisis. Its mediator role in representative democracy has waned, perhaps due to the rise of TV democracy. A new pattern is slowly emerging; with weak party institutions and a chairman who is king in times of victory but who is forced to step down after defeat.