OPINION

Government on deathbed

When it comes to the skirmishing among the ruling Socialists, we are unable to see the forest for the trees – meaning the reason behind this outrageous and unacceptable internal rift. Costas Simitis’s rivals accuse him of leading the party to inevitable defeat. The premier and his allies blame the party’s so-called navel-gazers. Neither of the two sides have employed any political arguments, leveled any valid criticisms of government performance, or put forward any corrective proposals. «Everyone mourns the dead, before he is even dead,» as government spokesman Christos Protopappas put it yesterday – as if death in politics were not a normal and inescapable outcome for a party in power for nearly 20 years. This premature lamentation, however, underscores that winning the elections is the only option available to PASOK. As a consequence, policymaking ceases to abide by the principles of efficient governance, and instead succumbs to the goal of electoral victory. Given the instinct of party survival, it’s normal that the prospect of a fatal defeat prompts despair and panic, that government performance comes to a halt, and that those who are going down try to climb aboard the lifeboats. PASOK has only just finished the second year of its mandate. Its panic is being expressed not in view of the next parliamentary elections but the upcoming local ones. This is a major cause for concern; not just for the fate of the ruling party but for Greece. The ordinary citizen doesn’t care whether this government remains in power. But he is rightfully worried about the actions of a dying government. Our religion prays for a painless, unashamed and peaceful end. If PASOK sees the loss of power as its political death, it should withdraw in a peaceful and unashamed fashion. That would be best for itself and, above all, for the country.