Diversion tactics

Smiles have returned to the Maximos Mansion as the conservatives’ counterattack seems to have worked. Although PASOK knew that an attack on the party’s general manager, Yiannis Papaconstantinou, was imminent, it still managed to be caught off guard. If PASOK leader George Papandreou really wanted to live up to his own words, he should have done what he demanded of his opponent – that is, suspend his aide. The belated resignation has allowed New Democracy to score some points even though it will now be harder for the prime minister to duck his responsibility for the mistakes committed by his own. But all this is mostly PR exercise. The most important aspect is the implication on domestic politics. Costas Karamanlis claims that he has not tried to create a diversion but, in fact, he has done just that. He unearthed an old – albeit real – scandal to even out the bad impressions caused by the bonds scandal and to deflect attention from the devastating blaze on Mt Parnitha. But prime ministers are not supposed to shelve or dig up scandals whenever they deem it appropriate. Institutionally speaking, it was an unacceptable decision. New governments must send corruption cases to the prosecutor. It’s the only way to prevent similar incidents. This is not an isolated incident – it’s a tactic. The premier is waging a campaign not by advertising his government’s record but by lashing out against past sins. Big as the Socialist sins may be, they cannot feature on the agenda of the coming election. PASOK was punished for its mistakes by being swept out of power. More important now are the works and sins of the current administration and whether the opposition can offer any reliable alternative. After all, people will vote accordingly.

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