‘Progressive’ front

Cooperation between Greece’s «progressive parties» has been one of PASOK’s pet cliches with which it has infiltrated into the traditional pool of the left for more than two decades. The government spokesman’s remarks yesterday are worth noting, for they were made after the elections and not before them. This seems to suggest that political expediency did not concern the municipal and regional elections but it does the parliamentary ones. Referring to PASOK’s positive cooperation with the Left Coalition (Synaspismos) in certain municipalities and prefectures, Christos Protopappas stressed that the ruling party has a «frank, clear and unambiguous intention to create a progressive pole of center-left and left parties in Greece.» Protopappas made clear that this is a «strategic decision» but did not specify PASOK’s future initiatives. His aim is to forge a strategic alliance with Synaspismos which will also take in other leftist movements. The Socialist party realizes that the formation of such a pole increases its chances of renewing their mandate. The issue has repeatedly been raised in the past, but with no tangible result. When PASOK felt strong it was unwilling to share power. When it sensed the risk of losing power it made overtures to the left; but then it was the turn of left-wing parties to turn down PASOK’s proposals for cooperation. The current electoral law does not favor post-election coalitions, given that the winner usually enjoys an overall majority. In effect, PASOK’s proposal only makes sense if it refers to a joint bid at the next elections or if the new election law, which will apply to the next parliamentary polls but one, necessitates the formation of coalition governments. For the time being, Synaspismos seems unwilling to join forces with PASOK on the grounds that it disagrees with government policy. But its ultimate stance will be decided only after the picture is clear and only provided that it surpasses the 3 percent threshold needed for parliamentary seats. PASOK’s Achilles’ heel is that it has broken its ties with the social strata which have for years been the main body of its electoral base. Results in Thessaly and Macedonia signaled rural disaffection. And PASOK’s performance in the poorer areas of the Attica basin indicated that the party’s ideological and political transformation in recent years has undermined its appeal amid the lower-income strata.