In the wake of the PASOK congress last fall, the Socialist camp was still pervaded by an air of optimism, with ruling officials predicting that New Democracy’s lead would have evaporated by June. Developments, however, suggest otherwise. ND seems to have consolidated a clear lead that is widening by the day. Despite the efforts by PASOK General Secretary Costas Laliotis to generate new political momentum, the ruling party seems unable to transcend its internal contradictions. Instead it sinks deeper, degenerating in familiar fashion. Despite his fresh mandate from the party congress, the prime minister is far from controlling the game. He is desperately trying to regain control of the situation by means of dramatizing it. He has successfully followed this tactic in the past, but winning some time seems to be the best he can manage this time round. It is increasingly obvious that he is finding it increasingly hard to forge solidarity, to inspire his party or even to coordinate his government. Societal fatigue and satiety are fueling divergent personal objectives of the various party-barons, with a paralyzing effect on the Socialist party. But rather than seizing the bull by the horns, Costas Simitis has opted to polarize the climate. His rhetoric seeks to reverse the roles. He has indulged in anti-conservative rhetoric and is indirectly questioning ND’s right to monitor his actions. ND’s opposition tactics have not always been ideal, but it would be unfair to accuse it of blind criticism. ND criticism has been exaggerated and sometimes sweeping, but overall Costas Karamanlis has shown relative constraint. The prime minister questions the opposition’s ability to rule the country, and is thereby portraying his government as the sole answer to the question of power. Accurate though much of Simitis’s criticism may be, political changeover is a fundamental democratic principle and a safety valve, preventing governments from acquiring the characteristics of a regime. Costas Simitis has every right to consider himself the most appropriate person to handle government affairs. But it is unethical to lapse into establishment-type rhetoric that essentially portrays ND not as the other pillar of the country’s political system, but as a party whose ascent to power would have catastrophic repercussions for the country. Kathimerini has often pointed out that the fruits of political and business entanglements – TaxisNet is one of these – are costly and problematic. The Taxis system and its various applications have proved to be sorely lacking. They are costly and ineffective. The example of the online income tax service is indicative of this. We need no further evidence to understand that corruption harms the country and its citizens.

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