OPINION

PASOK hostage to business interests

«This is a criminal government;» «The government of New Democracy is in a state of panic;» «Phenomenal decline in public revenues;» «Phenomenal divergences from budget targets;» «Phenomenal decline in farmers’ incomes;» «Phenomenal crisis of confidence in the Greek economy;» «Desperate fiscal policy;» «A sellout of the Greek people’s fortunes;» «Political disaster.» This is not a selection of headlines printed in the pro-PASOK press. Surprisingly, they are extracts from a parliamentary speech made yesterday by Socialist opposition leader George Papandreou. The words «disaster,» «desperate,» «criminal government» and five «phenomenal» blunders, all mentioned in a single address, signal the new political ethos that Papandreou promised when he inherited the mantle of PASOK’s leadership. It is blatant yet hardly phenomenal that the new Socialist leader is guided by the same old business interests that manipulated the former PASOK administrations. In fact, Papandreou is rehashing their cliche slogans. He has clearly opted to tread down that path, discarding all his previous pledges to the contrary. Choosing to fall behind the so-called entangled interests is one thing but attempting to present such slogans as coherent political discourse is quite another. Unfortunately for the country, Papandreou is the leader of the opposition – a political institution that plays a crucial role in the functioning of the democratic system. PASOK’s policy of polarizing the climate over the economy is a demagogic, opportunistic attempt to play on the public weariness caused by the long-term consequences of the Simitis administrations (of which Papandreou was, of course, also a member). The danger is that the Socialist party is attacking the foundations of an economic policy that has been a fixed strategic goal for Greece’s mainstream parties (privatization, EMU, fiscal discipline). Betraying these principles for the sake of serving the short-term interests of PASOK’s business cronies is unacceptable.