True to form, PASOK wavers

The surprise sacking of Yiannos Papantoniou, Greece’s economy czar under the old-style as well the reformist PASOK government, added to the confusion within the Socialist camp, sparking a new round of navel gazing. Many agreed that George Papandreou’s macho posturing was necessary as PASOK cannot afford to appear confused on the the issue. But others said that the Socialist leader merely took a long-awaited opportunity to rid his party of some irksome barons. Whatever his motives, Papandreou’s decision to oust the pioneer of Emporiki Bank’s privatization remains a riddle. Few people seem to grasp PASOK’s stand on the bank’s takeover by France’s Credit Agricole. Back in 2000, the administration of Costas Simitis and then Emporiki Bank governor Yiannis Stournaras had shown interest in selling the lender to foreign owners. So what is the fuss all about? Is it just that PASOK deemed the price tag too low? But the price is determined by an entire range of different factors that have nothing to do with people’s sentimental attachment to state property. In the age of globalization, epithets such as «public good» or «public property» have become an anachronism, used and abused by the left – with no more meaning than the call for every public enterprise to have only one share owned by the state. So where does PASOK really stand on this issue? And why is that a question to virtually all commentators? And it calls for a second question: Had Papantoniou, PASOK’s most enduring finance minister, ever been asked his opinion on the issue? Perhaps he should have been, as he was among the main champions of a particular economic model put forward by an administration that also compromised PASOK’s current leader and its spokesman on financial issues, Vasso Papandreou…

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