OPINION

Contradictory and absurd

Senior PASOK MP Yiannos Papantoniou has distanced himself from the party’s official line on the Emporiki sale and, as a result, his party has denounced him in harsh terms. As usual, this has been blown up into a major political issue, both in the pro-government and some opposition media. No doubt differences of opinion among party cadres are often prompted by a hidden agenda, such as publicity, personal displeasure at the party leaders at being passed over for a portfolio or party positions. In extreme cases, the disagreement could even be aimed at undermining the existing leadership by creating an impression of confusion and disorganization within the party. So to the extent that differences of opinion could arise from so many different causes, their political significance should be correspondingly minimized rather than blown out of proportion. However, our party leaders always overreact to disagreements with cadres. Papantoniou is a typical case in point. Having spent many years as an economy minister, he has the right to express a personal view on the Emporiki issue, particularly when it was he who initiated the sale process. Moreover, the current PASOK leadership has chosen to distance itself from Papantoniou’s policies by choosing others as its economic spokesmen. Why, then, does it not allow the former minister to defend his own record? In this case, George Papandreou either had to discipline Papantoniou for diverging from the party line or ignore him. But the angry response of party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis and today’s decision were a true theater of the absurd; at least that’s what the citizens think. At the same time, party discipline has degenerated into unacceptable authoritarianism since it essentially does away with deputies’ constitutional right to their own opinion.