The return of PASOK

The announcement of PASOK’s policy program inspired hope among Greece’s lower-income groups. Meanwhile, EU criticism of the country’s deficit data on Tuesday raised hopes among those who want to see the government adapting to economic policy guidelines from Brussels. The two hopes are incompatible. There is no way that the paradox can be reconciled. However, PASOK is no stranger to deft political maneuvering, regardless of the consequences. Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou had European officials tearing their hair out, saying that the budget deficit will stand at 12.5 percent at the end of the year. Papaconstantinou attributed the mess to the poor handling of his conservative predecessors, but he will most likely include in fiscal 2009 handouts promised by his party during the election campaign. Without the weight of extraordinary costs in 2010, the deficit will be trimmed – perhaps not to 4 percent and not through the EU-demanded structural economic measures. As a result, and save unforeseen international economic developments, PASOK will manage to come across as an effective government. Most certainly, the Socialists will not allow their political rivals or the media to shape the agenda. The crackdown on the privileged was pledged before the elections and was once again confirmed during the announcement of PASOK’s policy program. Meanwhile, there is the confrontation on a political level. In his address Sunday, Deputy Premier Theodoros Pangalos stated the government’s determination to use «political procedures and apportion political responsibilities.» This means that senior conservative cadres, currently MPs or not, will be grilled by parliamentary committees. PASOK is back with all its political mastery. It will do all it can to tarnish the elite that held power in the previous years. That should be a good lesson for ND officials who never stopped undermining each other during their days in power.