New dividing lines

In every crisis in Greek-Turkish relations, such as yesterday’s midair collision over the Aegean, the question of political consensus assumes greater significance. By coincidence, this same issue is the subject of political debate between the two major parties at this time, as PASOK rehashes its old «dividing lines.» One of the main elements of a party’s political success is its ability to tune in, as Andreas Papandreou used to say, to the trends that shape the popular will. Here, tuning in is like careful listening – that is, voter trends should be elicited and exploited politically before the elections make them absolutely clear. Consider PASOK’s angry reaction as well as something Constantine Mitsotakis said that was self-evident: If no party achieves an independent majority in the next elections, the most logical thing would be for PASOK and New Democracy to form a coalition government. This logic is based on the observation that the two parties’ political and ideological differences are minor. Certainly those differences are smaller than the contrasts between PASOK and the parties of the left, just as they are between ND and the ultra-right. PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis has ruled this out and rejected the prime minister’s comments regarding a consensus on major issues. He accused ND of seeking accomplices to cover its secret agenda. His statements coincided with a MARC poll that showed 65.3 percent of those polled believe the differences between the two parties are negligible. The general conclusion is that the «dividing lines» which Athanassakis continues to see really do exist, but they don’t lie between the two parties, but separate PASOK from the current political reality as seen by the majority of the Greek people.