Yet another ‘fresh start’

It’s tried and tested. In order to rally your forces – particularly old allies who have started to question you – and to appeal to indifferent and neutral ones, the best way is to conjure up a serious threat, come up with an outside enemy. Rather than being held accountable for PASOK’s defeat in the general elections and explaining what he intends to change after this «new beginning,» George Papandreou chose to conjure up outside threats, giving them names such as «extra-institutional centers» and «the rule of the media.» Also, taking his conspiracy theory a step further, Papandreou slammed as «conspirators» those who naively assumed that dynasties work along political, not blood lines. Papandreou won a party election. But in truth it appears that he has won what in soccer speak is referred to as a pre-match friendly, after having lost four major clashes against his main rival. Of course the 56 percent of the vote is more realistic than the 100 percent he won in 2004. Also, the media will now be less keen to cover his morning jog that inaugurated his first «new beginning.» This does not mean that the all-powerful media have turned against him but rather that his early style – a mixture of sensationalist populism and light life-style – is no longer in vogue. It actually attracted less than the 1 million voters of 2004 – unless we assume this figure was exaggerated. Papandreou said his fresh mandate was «clear and strong.» But it actually looks more like extra time with the consent of the barons who represent little that is «new.» Moreover, they will soon expect to receive Papandreou’s thank-yous in more tangible form. Can the 56 percent be clearer and stronger than the 100 percent? And how much comfort can Papandreou (and PASOK) take in the fact that his most applauded sound-bite was his admission that he had finally «matured.»