OPINION

The role of senior statesmen

Many would have faced a serious dilemma in the elections had Costas Simitis stood against the prime minister, as many believe Simitis was a very good prime minister with a tangible legacy. There are also those in the same group who would like to ask the former premier certain questions. The first: Why did he hand the torch to George Papandreou? We know that in politics one seldom acts out of kindness or personal sympathies. Simitis knew he would suffer an impressive loss to Karamanlis and it is clear he was simply looking for a way to avoid the humiliation. More cunning minds say the former PM had deeper, possibly less pure, motives. They say that feeling the pressure from businessmen and publishers to cede his position to Papandreou, he saw an opportunity to challenge «Papandreism.» Simitis felt in his bones the adoration that existed for Andreas Papandreou, the cold shoulder of PASOK, the chill, and said, «If it’s Papandreou you want, that’s what you’ll get.» This makes more sense when one considers how well informed Simitis was of his foreign minister’s administrative style. He knew about the self-styled advisers, the lack of determination, the unorthodox running of things. The torch turned to ice as leaks from the «Simitis circle» damaged Papandreou’s bid at the polls just days before the elections. Simitis’s traditional supporters were also surprised by how fast he stepped up in favor of Evangelos Venizelos, not 24 hours after the elections. They knew how diametrically opposed his values are to Venizelos’s and the opinions each had of the other during Simitis’s tenure. It was a Machiavellian pact. Simitis tried to smooth over the backlash, but his allies continue to undermine Papandreou. The fact is the country needs senior statesmen to talk about what they did wrong and steer us onto the right path. It does not need former PMs playing party leader.