Back to the future

I received a text message the other day from a close aide of George Papandreou, PASOK’s leader. «Papandreou is finally changing everything. The old guard is out of the Political Council,» it said. «I’ve heard that one before,» I thought, but then reproached myself for being too cynical and nonchalant. The morning after found me staring at the names of the newly elected national council members. The list included ex-unionist Christos Polyzogopoulos, former deputy Stefanos Tzoumakas, and PASOK’s former organizational secretary Lefteris Katsikarelis. I realized that Papandreou had indeed changed everything by taking us way back into the past. It was like going on a sightseeing tour of the Socialist party headquarters on Harilaou Trikoupi Street during its early days. Sometime soon, Papandreou should have one of those de profundis brainstorming sessions with the executives of a leading marketing company that he has been using. They should be able to explain to him that it’s extremely risky, if not fatal, to advertise a quality that has absolutely nothing to do with the product you are trying to sell. Papandreou managed to move, arouse and provoke a wide audience because he stood for modern ideas, be they private universities or Greek rapprochement with Turkey. Some were charmed just by the resonance of his surname. Now he is the leader of a party that is but a mere shell of the once glorious PASOK, and he is surrounded by some of the most reactionary elements in Greece. Maybe he has something in mind. But for those who once urged him to «change everything» – and worse still, those who actually believed that he might do so – these are sad, almost desperate times.

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