OPINION

Political irony

I will not include you in my plans and you will no longer be considered with regards to the activities of the parliamentary group.» The chief of the PASOK thus addressed former Prime Minister Costas Simitis, the man who endorsed him to become party chief one night in 2004, in front of his home on Anagnostopoulou Street in Kolonaki, and in front of the television cameras. And Simitis replied, «Do what you must.» Each leader has presented the profile of a moderate, low-key politician, yet both have displayed a certain stubbornness and something of a Napoleonic complex when their hold on power or image are being threatened. The head-on collision we have witnessed is just about that: image and power. The former prime minister, condescendingly and somewhat pugnaciously reprimanded the party chief for his choices and told him that his predecessors would have handled things differently. The younger man, the heir, feels his authority coming under threat and kicks backs, violently. Essentially, he is writing off Simitis. Meanwhile, the cause of the conflict has been forgotten. Who remembers the Lisbon Treaty? Who wonders about European enlargement? Who ponders the terms on which a representative democracy functions? No, the Greek center left is not worrying itself with such matters, it is not producing policy proposals, it is not concerned with the debasement of political authority or the public’s disdain for corrupt politicians. They are expending themselves on questions such as who is getting more air time, who’s ahead in the argument and who is leading the ailing party. A similar conflict, between a younger and an older man, has happened before; in the ranks of New Democracy, between Constantine Mitsotakis and Costas Karamanlis. How ironic.