PASOK’s escape from politics

When will PASOK finally get serious, roll up its sleeves, carve out a real stance of opposition and force the government to solve the country’s problems? Can’t party chief George Papandreou and his cadres hear the buzz on the street, the citizens who, yes, are disappointed by the mistakes and inertia of the government but are even more enraged by PASOK’s incompetence in pressing the government with its own, more realistic solutions? Just like the old adage «Nero fiddled while Rome burned,» the people of PASOK are traipsing around on television shows and in newspaper interviews, not in order to tell us what steps ought to be taken against the credit crunch, what we need to do to protect ourselves from the impending crisis or what has to change in the social security system so that the elderly don’t need to stand in line for hours, but to refute any scenarios about a possible collaboration with New Democracy or tout their cooperation with SYRIZA, just as they are being snubbed by Alexis Tsipras. In this cloud of escapism being practiced by PASOK, when certain of its officials say something sensible, it leads to skirmishes and fights within party ranks. For example, financial adviser Louka Katselis’s view on state-owned enterprises – that if they have been losing money for years and do not provide proper services, then they are better off closed – made perfect sense, yet her own party launched an attack against her. The party spokesman, the ambitious Giorgos Papaconstantinou (holder of degrees from LSE and Princeton, if you please) lambasted her by saying that public enterprises are not shut down, but reorganized. This was the same story PASOK was saying in the 1980s: They did eventually close down the problematic companies but not before having saddled the Greek people with a huge public debt it is still struggling to pay off.