Divided opposition

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s interview with the Sunday Kathimerini could become a yardstick by which to judge the government’s policies – especially in the economic sector. Has the PASOK opposition reached a similar point of reference? Recent comments made by Socialist figures have only deepened the confusion. Press reports said PASOK is hammering out a Nordic-style economy dogma. Urged by Socialist leader George Papandreou, shadow economy minister Vasso Papandreou has mobilized Mimis Androulakis, a transfer from the left-wing Synaspismos Left Coalition party who endorses the neo-liberal doctrines of Andreas Andrianopoulos and Stefanos Manos – who themselves defected from the conservative camp. Meanwhile, Akis Tsochadzopoulos slammed the government’s neo-liberal policies while portraying himself as a guardian of Andreas Papandreou’s welfarist legacy. On the issue of social security reform, Evangelos Venizelos has defended the extant legislation that was drafted by PASOK, while Costas Skandalidis has said he favors a fresh debate on the current system. These are only some of the serious divisions dogging PASOK, many of which never make the headlines. Internal government rifts can be damaging because they take a toll on its performance. The opposition, on the other hand, is not judged by its deeds but by its political discourse. The fact that it is not expected to make good on its promises allows it to distribute criticism liberally and even make blind accusations against the government. Yet growing dissent inside PASOK is not merely a reflection of ulterior motives by its senior figures. It could also be a sign of PASOK’s shift away from sterile accusations and a bid to articulate more constructive rhetoric. That would be good news for PASOK and the country alike.

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