Unruly PASOK

The session of PASOK’s two-day Central Committee was far from flattering to the image of the ruling Socialists, the government, and the prime minister in particular. Costas Simitis made some correct remarks. He dismissed the «personal goals and strategies» of party barons, he warned them that «no one is immune,» adding that «whoever thinks that the negative image doesn’t harm them, because their stance overcomes it, is mistaken.» But these statements are not enough. When the prime minister calls upon his senior cadres to «break the vicious circle of self-induced navel-gazing» and then, shortly afterward, a heavyweight like Theodoros Pangalos goes on to sketch out the extent of defeat at the municipal elections that would pose an issue of leadership, then there’s certainly cause for concern. Simitis appears to be in charge of an unruly body of cadres, each of whom follows their own private strategy. If the problem were confined to PASOK’s ranks, then dealing with it would have the character of watching a political party unravel. That would be of exclusive interest to Socialist supporters, political commentators and the media. PASOK, however, has been voted by Greek citizens to govern a country until March 2004 – in theory at least. This means that government paralysis has immediate and serious repercussions on the lives of millions of people. Unfortunately, the greater part of Simitis’s term has been frittered away on dealing with inner-party dissent. His occasional victories over the various aspirants to the party leadership or the various party alliances have failed to restore some order inside the party that would allow him to finally tackle the country’s vexing problems. Simitis bears huge responsibility for the present situation, a situation which gets worse by the day. People are tired of the skirmishing between PASOK’s barons and, of course, refuse to accept the rift as an excuse for a lame performance. Simitis has a mandate to govern the country for two more years. He has to restore order inside his party and complete his term as premier. He actually missed the opportunity presented to him by his re-election in April 2000. He should at least manage the situation for the remaining period. Unless he has other plans in mind. Besides, there’s no such thing as deadlock in a democracy.