An irresponsible ruler

One has to wonder whether Costas Simitis’s new book should be analyzed primarily from a political or psychological viewpoint, judging by the excerpts. First, he claims that PASOK lost the 2004 elections because his successor, George Papandreou, failed to draw attention to the achievements of his predecessor. Then he discusses the way Papandreou succeeded him and analyzes his leadership qualities. Thirdly, he refers to the Imia islet fiasco and lays the blame on Admiral Lymberis, who then headed up the Chiefs of Staff. So the first question one should ask Simitis is this: Since his governments – particularly the last one – finished up so much work, why didn’t he lead his party into the March 2004 elections so that he could reap the benefits in the form of a third electoral victory? Instead, he did precisely the opposite: dodging the fight and abandoning the party leadership on the eve of the battle. Simitis’s book treats his own leadership in a similar fashion. As we all know, one of the main qualities of a leader is assuming responsibility and supporting one’s deputies, especially when that leader has personally chosen his own staff. These two qualities apply even more to a leader who exercises his powers in an authoritarian manner, circumventing collective decisions and the democratic process. That is what Simitis did by decreeing George Papandreou as his successor. He did likewise by putting his trust in Admiral Lymberis, armed forces head since 1993, naming him to PASOK’s Central Committee. What did Simitis really expect of George Papandreou? Obviously he did not expect him to win the elections by drawing attention to the «achievements» of the Simitis government. In the same way, he blames Lymberis for the Imia fiasco. We hope the rest of Simitis’s book will reveal a sense of responsibility, generosity and political gallantry.

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