Bad movie with the wrong cast

In order to be successful, a politician must be able do two things at once: First, he must play the role that suits him and, second, he must leave a clear mark. If the role doesn’t suit him, spectators will simply miss the original actor. If he has no clear idea where he wants to go, few voters will choose to follow him. Listening to PASOK leader George Papandreou the past few weeks makes me feel a bit sad. Polarizing rhetoric and personal attacks are simply not for him. But some people have convinced him that this is the way to win the elections. Papandreou used to have a very strong card in his hand. He was a different kind of politician, one who could score points by virtue of his international image, his unconventional views that run against the political mainstream and his moderate stance. The combination of these seemed to herald in a new style of politics that might not arouse the old PASOK comrades but appealed to that crucial 5-10 percent of the electorate that determine election outcomes. That was then. PASOK, and even Papandreou himself, seem convinced that the conservatives’ fall would come about with the revelation of the bonds scandal alone. But unless we’re in for some major disclosures, that’s very unlikely. Moreover, the media campaign blaming the government for everything from the structured bond issue to the tragedy on the Lousios River is not doing Papandreou any good. Although most people see the scandals, they refuse to accept the indiscriminate attacks on the government as if everything was perfect before New Democracy came to power. Exaggeration backfires. Papandreou can either continue to send PASOK populists into a frenzy by lashing out against a Sicilian-like Mafia or turn back into the good-old politician that made him Simitis’s successor. For the time being, it’s like watching a bad movie from the 1980s but with the wrong cast.

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