OPINION

Hereditary democracy

George Papandreou spoke of «nonexistent princes» and «imaginary barons» at the PASOK party congress. But barons do exist and they have a name, aspirations and interests, and princes are not exclusive to the realm of fairy tales (though the handing of the PASOK presidency to Papandreou in 2004 was certainly staged like a fairy tale, with «one million voters» added for effect and whom we only just learned – because of party infighting – were actually about half that number), nor to some distant kingdom, but to this king-less democracy. Almost four years ago, Papandreou was not preferred, nor did he figure automatically as a successor to Costas Simitis because of his experience or for his effectiveness as a minister under several PASOK administrations. Papandreou was endowed with neither quality, as even his most ardent supporters would have to admit. He was chosen firstly because the senior cadres of PASOK, as well as the pro-Papandreou media (who now launch harsh criticism against their former favorite) felt the need to fight the opposition with the same gun. They believed that in the battle for the leadership they should pit the historically charged name of Papandreou against the historically charged name of Karamanlis (Costas), who was also bereft of the benefit of experience, as even his most ardent supporters would have to admit. Nepotism at the top is not exclusive to Greek politics and at the end of the day, everyone is judged by their deeds. Yet the problem in Greece is that nepotism at the top coexists with rife nepotism at the bottom in a system of mutual legitimization. Just a quick glance at the list of MPs and Euro MPs would suffice to convince us that there is no shortage of politicians who see their children as young princes whose birthright is to effortlessly inherit the family barony. Who knows, maybe DNA archaeologists will one day prove that politics is also a genetic trait.