Simitis’s message

Every year at this time, the prime minister travels to Thessaloniki to inaugurate the International Fair and, on that occasion, to sketch a framework for the government’s economic and social policies. This time, Costas Simitis seems to have placed much hope in the event, anticipating that his presence at the fair will function as a springboard for a political counterattack by PASOK’s ruling Socialists. The political discourse of the prime minister now centers on the multifaceted notion of security. Security has always been a pet slogan of right-wing parties, used to forge solidarity among conservative households. Using the same slogan as a battering ram, Costas Simitis and his Socialist government are clearly trying to penetrate the right-of-center electorate. The global crisis has reinforced the middle classes’ security concerns, a fact that provides fertile ground for the premier’s public language. Simitis is trying to exploit the political and psychological climate of widespread insecurity in order to justify his moderate incomes policy. It is indicative of the situation that he has repeatedly stressed that he will not succumb to the temptation of handouts, for he does not want to put the country’s fiscal balance in jeopardy. The consequences would be dire. It is worth noting, however, that this is the first time that a prime minister of this country will have to put up with public demonstrations at the trade fair. The protest rallies organized by the various opposition parties will be fragmented; however, they all share one common goal: They aim at articulating a political disagreement and, above all, to cast their shadow on Simitis’s political intervention. It is uncertain what the impact of this political struggle will be in terms of its effect on the public. In essence, however, the prime minister’s address will reach the public ear and will surely have an impact, regardless of the ferocity of the demonstrations. These may cast a cloud over Simitis’s appearance but they will not steal the show. Aside from the television spectacle, Simitis’s appearance carries much political weight. In this respect, Simitis made significant remarks that are consistent with his strategic perception concerning the country’s future, as he stated it at the outset of his premiership.

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