OPINION

An act of emancipation

Opposition leader George Papandreou’s decision to oust Yiannos Papantoniou from PASOK’s parliamentary group is an in-house issue but should not, however, be overlooked by conservative cadres. That Papantoniou appeared consistent with the policies of the Costas Simitis governments in his controversial statements means nothing. Past remarks by Giorgos Souflias, Stephanos Manos and Andreas Andrianopoulos were also consistent with Constantine Mitsotakis’s positions, but this did not prevent the then new head of New Democracy, Costas Karamanlis, from striking them from the party. This show of force is not unusual in any new leader and in this sense Papandreou was slow off the mark. The way things stand today, the leaders of the two mainstream parties are simply trying to create the impression of implementing independent policies instead of managing and adapting those handed down from the European Union, especially regarding the economy and foreign policy. Given their total ideological alignment with the European system – and despite the practical difficulties – carving a clear line between the two parties is next to impossible. Whenever a political stance of opposition is eventually put together, it is unable to stand the test of public scrutiny. There is no way to escape the framework that has been imposed and seeking any other way out is futile. The post-1974 political system was driven by a vision of unity with Europe. Becoming a eurozone member almost became an existential quest for Simitis. In periods of apparent prosperity, the system did the trick. It makes sense, therefore, that Papandreou is trying to shed Simitis’s legacy. After all, as foreign minister, he did the same with his father’s Turkey policy. New Democracy must see Papandreou’s decision to oust Papantoniou as an act of political emancipation.