OPINION

Restoring confidence?

Occasionally, the level of debate in Parliament can degenerate quite dramatically, as we witnessed on Wednesday when opposition PASOK chief George Papandreou called for a vote of no confidence against Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, prompting Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to grab his chance and call for a vote of confidence in the government. The fact that Papandreou’s ambush had been predicted by two pro-government newspapers only made the incident all the more tragicomic. But perhaps the PASOK chief sees the three-day debate as an opportunity to overcome his party’s problems of identity and ideology. However, irrespective of first impressions of the PASOK chief – which were extremely negative according to rivals as well as many supporters – such debates in Parliament generally serve to rally the party faithful around their leaders. Over the past few weeks, Papandreou has found himself in a difficult position due to internal strife and conflicting opinions among high-profile party figures. For three days, however, their attention has shifted to the government, and Papandreou will find himself applauded and a surface cohesion will be restored… Nevertheless, it is clear that the government will receive a resounding vote of confidence on Sunday night, and all talk of a Cabinet reshuffle will be postponed indefinitely…