OPINION

PASOK’s leadership issue

It has been an open secret for some time that PASOK officials who are dissatisfied with the performance of their leader, George Papandreou, are already discussing various alternative solutions. As they see it, the party’s chief problem is that its leader lacks political nerve, is slow to act and has wasted time and energy for months on organizational details, disappointing grass-roots supporters. These figures ask how long that gap at the top will persist before the Socialists are led to a decisive electoral defeat for the second time running. They believe that if the opinion polls still show Papandreou’s popularity falling in 2006, they would have cause for raising the leadership question. Indeed Papandreou’s performance is nothing special, while some of his behavior justifies those within PASOK who have joined the dissatisfied camp. However, the party’s major problem is not Papandreou in particular so much as the lack of an overall political strategy, a problem which has plagued PASOK for the past three years. Those who are preoccupied with Papandreou’s leadership qualities, however, are paying little or no attention to more hard-nosed questions of policy. Regardless of the PASOK leader’s personal responsibility for this deficiency, one would think that the party’s preoccupied major figures (who have been assiduously promoted by the media) might have produced speeches, public discussions or articles dealing with policy proposals or other issues of political interest. On the contrary, they seem all but politically inert, confining themselves to mechanical opposition rhetoric, focusing on intra-party power questions and dwelling on the predicted (and longed for) decline of Papandreou. Thus, their own behavior is contributing to PASOK’s political impasse.