‘Security’ has a hollow ring

The customary presence of the premier in Thessaloniki for the opening of the International Fair has degenerated into a meaningless event, while the pledges on economic policy have come to resemble little but a hopeless attempt to idealize a grim present. Socialist spin doctors have chosen security as this year’s government slogan. Costas Simitis has repeatedly referred to this in an attempt to rally citizens round his government. Not surprisingly, Simitis proved to be an awkward imitator of former leaders in the history of the progressive movement. True, former Prime Minister George Papandreou won the 1963 elections using the «democracy» slogan while his son, Andreas, invoked the «change» slogan to win the 1981 national polls. But these two leaders were vehicles of a – then emergent – majority tendency that didn’t need to hear about specific programs to vote for the Center Union or for PASOK. The historical context was different then and political leaders were of a different caliber. The security dogma that Simitis opted for merely confirmed that the current PM has begun to realize Greek citizens are dominated by a feeling of uncertainty. In Friday’s address at Thessaloniki, Simitis dramatized the state of the European and US economies but made sure to underscore Greece’s privileged position on the grounds that «we have a steady currency» and «we have the highest growth rate in Europe.» The fact that the steady currency has been accompanied by an increase in the price of basic commodities does not seem to bother Simitis, who does not seem to realize that Euroskepticism threatens to become a majority tendency, with all the negative repercussions that this would entail. The security slogan was, no doubt, selected by Simitis’s spin doctors in direct reference to the dismantling of the November 17 urban guerrilla group over the last couple of months. Some progress has, no doubt, been made as far as the issue of terrorism is concerned… but the case is too complex to allow one to say with certainty that PASOK and Simitis will gain direct political benefits. What emerged from Simitis’s comments on terrorism-related issues was undoubtedly the embarrassment felt by the left – and the government in particular – at the remarks of Dimitris Koufodinas, a chief operative of November 17 who turned himself in to the police on Thursday, who said terrorist activity aspired to the creation of a «socialist society.» This was enough to drive the premier to stress during his speech that «terrorists had hijacked left-wing ideology.» …For the first time in the last 40 years, the Greek left has found itself on the defensive, feeling a need to apologize rather than portray itself as the only healthy political movement in this country. Finally, it’s impossible to cultivate a sense of security among Greece’s citizens through the presentation of foreign issues for, as Simitis rightly admitted, «over the last few months, Europe and the broader international community are witnessing the formation of a situation which deepens uncertainties concerning the major aims of the EU and Greece.» Simitis’s speech reflected a sense of insecurity and an impasse which is not offset by the reassuring declarations of the premier of an administration whose inadequacy has been blatantly highlighted by this summer’s rainstorms in the capital. PASOK’s spin doctors should have picked a different slogan.

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