The last to laugh?

Scathing attacks by a portion of the media against the decisions of George Papandreou and the bid by senior, albeit timeworn, socialist cadres to undermine the socialist leader have been a surprising development. Former ministers, members of the so-called reformist bloc, don’t hesitate to challenge Papandreou in public by ignoring his decisions. Yiannos Papantoniou has scoffed at Papandreou’s bid to renew the party, dubbing it a «restoration;» Evangelos Venizelos’s statements reveal his leadership ambitions; Anna Diamantopoulou is flirting with the idea that TV stations have the power to make her a leader; Christos Verelis is launching personal attacks against ministers’ wives in an attempt to drag down the level of political confrontation; Akis Tsochadzopoulos is calling for a party convention; Christos Polyzogopoulos is looking back at the days he made Costas Simitis shelve his social security reform proposals. What exactly is going on here? First, the pro-PASOK media has never forgiven Papandreou for not having prevented the conservatives’ return to power. Worse, they fear PASOK will also lose the 2008 elections. Moreover, they want to restore the baronies of the Simitis era – a time when they were able to pull the strings. What are PASOK’s barons up to? They are trying to drag Papandreou into populist tactics which will split voters. They are urging Papandreou to lash out at the government’s economic measures and want to bring political life to an impasse, claiming that when PASOK returns to power, it will abolish all of New Democracy’s laws. But PASOK’s leader is not just a modern politician, but also a Papandreou. He has strong public appeal and looks certain to become premier one day. As a result, he has every interest in seeing ND solve the big structural problems, so he can afford to sell a more social profile.

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