Succession interests

All the opinion polls carried out in 2001, 2002 and 2003 showed that with regard to people’s intention to vote, the difference between PASOK and New Democracy remained between 5 and 11 points against the ruling Socialist party. Back then, the Simitis government was becoming more and more unpopular and was heading for certain defeat in the March 2004 elections. The reasons for its dwindling ratings could not be blamed solely on poor public relations by the prime minister, who did not have the popular touch and had never won the hearts of the party’s base, and the feeling was mutual. Basically, the Simitis government was defeated for its politics, for as George Papandreou admitted the night after the elections, the people voted against it because of the «poor state of public administration, scandals, partisan politics and social injustice.» Although Papandreou was right about the reasons for PASOK’s defeat, unlike Evangelos Venizelos, he did not tell the whole truth about the changing of the guard at PASOK in January 2004. The media and business interests that in 1996 had supported Simitis saw to their dismay that he was heading for defeat. Their dismay was understandable, given their accumulation of huge profits from public works and state supply contracts over the previous eight years that had given rise to a new establishment of business owners and technocrats and a harsh redistribution of income. They had no qualms about getting rid of Simitis and replacing him with Papandreou, who unfortunately allowed his ambitions to betray him and gave in. When, over time, Papandreou proved to be unwilling to further their objectives, they began to undermine him and turned their sights on Venizelos. That is the bare truth about the current crisis within PASOK.