The September 3 crossroads

Among other things, September 3 marks the date that the socialist PASOK party was founded by Andreas Papandreou in 1974. Papandreou had a firm grip on the pulse of the times: He forged alliances, bred expectations and made things happen. He created a vessel for the middle class to make the move into political circles. He heard the buzz of a new world and crushed the old, leaving the centrists and the leftists in a state of sluggishness. His fundamental credo – for national sovereignty, popular dominance and social liberation – encompassed the unfulfilled passions of the Greek people; he promised everything to everyone. Now, 36 years on, his son leads PASOK and Greece. The country is at a critical crossroads, as it was in 1974, but it has lost its hope and unbridled optimism. Now, the pervading feeling is that we have failed and that the worst is yet to come. It is a feeling of defeat, an internal, palpable defeat, and with it comes an inability to form an identity and to carve a path for the future. It is now PASOK and its leader’s duty to feel the pulse of the era and find ways to turn the tide, to overcome the pervading mood – the most challenging of tasks. We do not need the party to ride the wave but to turn it around and dispel Greece’s deepening sense of facing a dead end. Can this be done? From what George Papandreou says – and doesn’t say but means – and regardless of how we try to go about it, such a turnaround does not appear likely anytime soon. Papandreou seems to have run out of steam; he lacks force and vitality. His rhetoric has become flat, there is no anxiety in his voice and he has run dry of ideas – especially since he placed the fate of the country in the hands of our international creditors. He has lost his skill in convincing the people of his abilities, as well as drawing strength from them. The severity of the situation seems to be beyond his power, to have overcome him. On September 3, 1974, Andreas Papandreou gave us optimism, strength and ambition. On September 3, 2010, George Papandreou is giving us pessimism, weakness and disappointment.

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