Lack of opposition detrimental

PASOK is edging closer to a split. The two main contenders, George Papandreou and Evangelos Venizelos, appear to be waging a vendetta against each other, expending all their energy in trying to destroy the enemy alliance. It’s a sad ending for a party that has ruled Greece for over two decades and which – even at its lowest point, the September 16 elections – still managed to garner some 2.7 million votes. Petty ambitions, conspiracies and backstabbing have plunged Socialist voters into grief and anxiety. The party established by the late Andreas Papandreou is breaking up. However, the anguish and disappointment aside, what matters is the political aspect of the crisis: the division and humiliation of the country’s main opposition party. When the opposition is a mess, there is no one to criticize the government’s mistakes and put forward alternative, constructive proposals. PASOK’s crisis favors the government only in the short term. For the latter can now use its first 100 days to push through unpopular policies. In the long term however, it will be damaging for two reasons: First, it will spread the Left’s populist and unproductive discourse across the opposition. Antonis Skyllakos of the Communist party (KKE) warned all political parties against touching on the social security issue. So what will Papandreou and Venizelos do as leaders of the respective PASOK trends? Most probably they will follow the Skyllakos line and slam the administration as working against the interests of the people. That should not be enough to deter the government but it definitely means that the social security issue will be tackled in a sour climate as political life will be engulfed in the opposition’s anti-right wing reflexes. Also, the lack of a serious opponent will foster arrogance and partisanship within the ruling party.

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