Unproductive polarization

The doomed efforts of Socialist party leader George Papandreou in Parliament yesterday to polarize the domestic political climate in a bid to rally PASOK’s fighting forces was a sorry sight. Papandreou’s clumsy initiative to propose a vote of no confidence against National Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis backfired when, in a deft move, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis countered the motion by calling a vote of confidence in his conservative government. But New Democracy’s satisfaction with the Socialists’ blunder should not concern us here. The main point is that parliamentary deputies will once again be stuck in pointless scuffles just when the country needs a responsible and in-depth debate on the economy. The public should not have to suffer the consequences of the fact that the Socialists have degenerated into a virtual band of guerrillas because of Papandreou’s failure to hammer out any coherent political strategy. Papandreou’s failure has prompted the aspiring barons within PASOK to fill the gap. Hence senior Socialist cadres can often be seen vying to propose their own ideas or plan on any issue that emerges. The opposition party looks increasingly like a ship without a captain. One can understand the political, ideological and organizational challenges facing Papandreou because of this disarray. The PASOK leader must extricate himself from this political quicksand as soon as possible. He must make full use of his political skills instead of resorting to anachronistic, populist tricks that usually end up generating noisy confrontation inside and outside the halls of Parliament. From this page we have praised Papandreou when he adopted a responsible stand on key structural issues and when he warded off attacks from media seeking to perpetuate the corrupt regime of political and business entanglements. Yesterday, however, the Socialist leader disappointed all those who see in him the leader of a potentially reformist party currently under reconstruction.

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