No circumspection here

In his speech on Monday to PASOK’s National Council, party leader George Papandreou took a harsh, if not extreme, oppositional stance against the government. Presumably he was responding to strong pressure, that started right after the elections, by extra-parliamentary interests directly affected by the government’s policies for transparency, cleaning up public life and tackling corruption. Papandreou had managed to avoid such tactics up to now; and he had many reasons to refuse. First, acrimonious opposition does not suit his leadership style. Second, it is incompatible with the ideological and political views he proclaims. Third, he was definitely suspicious of the motives behind these calls for him to adopt a confrontational opposition, given that he himself had proclaimed the need to smash entangled interests. Fourth, even a political novice knows that in order to prove effective, a hard-hitting opposition must be well grounded and persuasive. After Papandreou’s unrestrained outburst on Monday, one wonders what level of opposition and condemnation the Socialist leader will reach in 35 months, when the next electoral showdown will likely take place. I mention this not in order to improve his political discourse, but so that it does not descend into farce. If Papandreou believes these comments are exaggerated or made in bad faith, he need only look at yesterday’s pro-opposition newspapers. All, without exception, avoided highlighting his immoderate use of slogans in their headlines, even though this is precisely what they have urged for months. Presumably these publications want to retain their credibility in their readers’ eyes. Should Papandreou not show the same circumspection in view of the judgment of the Greek voter?

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