Wasted opportunities

After three years of conservative governance, PASOK has failed to capitalize on a considerable number of government blunders. But the bonds scandal was not just another scandal, it was an organized squandering of the holiest of wealth: the pensioners’ savings. Worse, it came at a time when politicians talk about raising the retirement age to save the pension funds from collapsing. In soccer terms, the Socialists found themselves alone facing the opposition goalie but, once again, failed to score. In Greece’s two-party system, the ratings are a zero-sum game for the two big parties. But the process is neither automatic nor linear. If New Democracy dominates the political scene that is not thanks to some great performance but rather due to PASOK’s failure to come up with a credible political alternative. The opposition has shown a huge tactical deficit. In the case of the bonds scandal, PASOK lacked all sense of professionalism and thus missed out on a perfect opportunity to push ND on the ropes. The Socialists failed to ask the right questions; they failed to mobilize their support from the state and the market; they failed to push the issue high on the media agenda and, finally, failed to put pressure on the weak links inside the administration. Instead, PASOK officials have based statements on media reports and wasted its energy on abstract allegations. It’s not just that PASOK failed to capitalize on the fiasco: Worse, it made a bad impression on voters which will affect their future preferences. The scandal may have restored Papandreou’s footing but the mood inside the Socialist camp is volatile. His fate will not be decided by the election outcome but also by these wasted opportunities.

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