A new start, all over again

Political skirmishes between ministers over the issue of seamen’s pensions last week threw the government into turmoil, sidelining developments in social security reform. On Tuesday, two ministers disagreed over the matter of civil servants’ incomes. It took mediation from the prime minister and intervention by the PASOK general secretary to reduce the tension. In both cases, one wonders why the two ministers had not contacted each other beforehand so as to avert the crisis which ensued under their joint responsibility. Also, one wonders why the premier has not given his ministers clear delineation in respect to implementation of the state budget, so as to avoid compromising the positions of his squabbling ministers who have each leaked their own version to the media. As these frustrating developments are taking place, government cadres are grumbling over the poor advancement of government work (which is how they justify the unfavorable polls in the recent months). And at a time when heavyweight ministers are unable to communicate with each other (in some cases even detest each other), the public is told that the premier and his close aides are about to make another comeback in communication with the populace, starting with the party’s much-touted Organizing Conference. According to sources, Simitis will once again issue strong calls for unity, striving for a new beginning. It is hard to see, of course, how PASOK will manage to «communicate» with the people when the majority of its senior cadres are unable to communicate with each other, putting ever greater pressure on the prime minister. It seems, however, that in light of the present circumstances, a troubled Simitis can do little more than restore some calm within his party and the government until the local elections. This is the least the premier can ask for. It remains to be seen whether his senior officials will respond to his calls.