Politics in PASOK

The ruling PASOK party has every reason to be concerned about its future under the present circumstances and about its degree of credibility among the electorate. So, when Prime Minister Costas Simitis decided to summon the socialists’ executive bureau to discuss politics, one would have expected something interesting to emerge from the Tuesday meeting. This was not the case, however. Partisan-minded views were expressed, while genuine political issues were not raised and everything progressed in the same old-fashioned way with references to the government’s image ahead of the municipal elections, as well as some discussion over a supposed dialogue intended to lead to the formation of a new center-left coalition. All the usual comments were uttered, reports said: «Defeatism does not suit us» (whom does it suit, I wonder), «PASOK will win the 2004 elections,» «party officials have to make overtures to the people,» «we are against scenarios about a center-right, short-lived government,» «we have to join forces in view of the local elections,» «PASOK ought to open up dialogue with society,» «there is a need to restore ties with the people,» «New Democracy is an elite party which serves business interests,» and so on. All these bear no relation to politics, to modern-minded reform, or to the genuine issues which concern what the political elite tend to refer to as «the people.» Things are not going well in general, and something has to be done to prevent them from getting worse. This is the conclusion that emerged from the discussion held during a gathering which was going to be «crucial» – as was said behind the scenes – for the future course of the government and the socialist party. Of course, it did not require a so-called crucial meeting of PASOK’s executive bureau to decide that the government camp has to stage a fierce battle against New Democracy or to reiterate that PASOK has to attempt to form a coalition with the center-left and the left. PASOK’s leadership, however, portrays this discourse as serious political strategy.

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