Doomsayers eat their words

The European Commission decision to end the excessive debt procedure for the Greek economy has thrown the main Socialist opposition party into a whirlpool of confusion and meanness. The announcement by the EU’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia that the Greek government had managed to trim its deficit to below the 3 percent threshold sparked a spate of vitriolic statements by PASOK officials. That was only to be expected of course, as the party’s shadow minister for economic affairs, Vasso Papandreou, had become something of a prophet of doom. Worse, her scaremongering had proved popular among other PASOK cadres and the party leader himself. Over the past couple of years they have predicted recession and unemployment but the Commission reported high growth, lower unemployment and a drop in inflation. PASOK said that the 2005 and 2006 budgets would not be executed but the EU reassured that the budget had shrunk without the use of creative accounting. Worse, George Papandreou went as far as to claim that the recommendation to lift budget sanctions on Greece was the result of backstage bargaining between the government and the Commission which PASOK will not be bound by when it is in government. Again, the Socialist party leader appears to have been convinced by the conspiracy theories devised by Vasso Papandreou. It was a major blunder as the opposition leader sought to shift petty in-party problems onto the back of a European body. In effect, the Socialist leader is saying that all the EU commissioners have conspired to ensure the Ecofin green light on June 5 in order to help out the Karamanlis administration. The dismal failure of PASOK propaganda has triggered a backlash of folly.