Back to society

PASOK’s crisis is not just a leadership crisis. It’s also a political crisis. And it concerns not only the Socialist barons but society itself: Society can sense the symptoms of an ailing PASOK, the biggest political party in the post-1974 period. Wise-headed people worry whether PASOK will continue to exist as a united and battle-ready party and how this can come about. The answer will determine the shape of our body politic. PASOK’s crisis reflects the broader crisis of European social democracy, yet some features are undoubtedly party-specific. PASOK is paying the price for its lengthy stay in power: weariness and corruption; the price of its gradual failure to generate politics; the price of its half-finished transformation, i.e. its failure to convert from an 1980s-style, radical and populist center-left movement into a Blair-like party, after 1996. In the 1980s PASOK seemed to adjust to a changing society. Post-1996, PASOK tried to steward society in a rather bureaucratic fashion. It’s not just a question of ideology. Society and the global environment had changed. PASOK’s mistake was that it was tone-deaf to the signals being emitted by society, or interpreted them in a myopic, power-hungry fashion. The 2004 power switch confirmed the lack of courage and lack of ideas. The party mantle was handed to the successor of the dynasty by a reformist interim, as it were, who wished to avoid a strategic defeat. It was not simply an election defeat. PASOK did not renew itself, it covered up tensions and shied away from genuine politics. It was a morally injured party that took shelter behind a cost-free leadership cult and was crushed. Now PASOK is looking for a new identity and role. But who does it represent? Previous recipes – rain check, disguise, soft ideology – they all failed. What’s left? A break with the past, a return to society and the risks that come with it: It’s what really matters to every thinking, active citizen.