OPINION

Fading assets

…As in soccer… the vigor a team displays on the pitch is directly linked to the weaknesses of its opponent. And a team’s weaknesses highlight the strengths of its rival. Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who was PASOK’s greatest asset for two consecutive parliamentary elections, has now become the Socialists’ weakest link. At the same time, conservative leader Costas Karamanlis’s power inside the party is at a peak, while he is far more popular as a potential premier than is Simitis – hardy a surprise given that his rival is incapable of imposing his rule on his own party. PASOK’s supposed advantage of having more reliable and experienced cadres in its ranks than New Democracy is undone in a similar fashion. For how reliable can a group of ministers who undermine each other be? What political experience can the main figures invoke when they take hasty decisions in a state of despair and panic in view of the coming elections? Simitis, however, is still the leading figure of this unfolding political drama. As prime minister, he is fully responsible for the figures who make up the government and their performance. As party leader, he is responsible for policy consistency and party solidarity. His performance in these two offices over the previous six years has been inconsistent: His bravery and decisiveness have vanished. His stance is reminiscent of a verse by Greek poet Costas Varnalis: «Gone are the days when I seemed set for better things»…