Con­ver­gence re­veals di­ver­gence

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

As Athens wept through the fumes of mas­sive amounts of tear gas fired by po­lice in the city cen­ter, Par­lia­ment voted through the sec­ond mem­o­ran­dum. Greece is saved, ac­cord­ing to the as­sur­ances of Prime Min­is­ter Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou and the min­is­ters and par­lia­men­tar­i­ans of rul­ing PASOK – bar one, who dis­sented and was struck from the party. Greece is saved, ac­cord­ing to some, de­spite the pig­head­ed­ness of the op­po­si­tion, and now Greek cit­i­zens are free to plan their sum­mer va­ca­tions. Pa­pan­dreou and his num­ber two, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Evan­ge­los Venize­los, took turns in play­ing the revo- lu­tion­ary leader – a role that is very pop­u­lar with most post-1974 politi­cians who see them­selves as giv­ing ev­ery­thing for the com­mon good – and they even gave new mean­ing to the word “pa­tri­o­tism.” But it was not these machi­na­tions that got the re­form pro­gram through Par­lia­ment. PASOK MPs voted for the sec­ond mem­o­ran­dum out of obe­di­ence to their leader and through a sense of party dis­ci­pline. This rep­re­hen­si­ble old-school be­hav­ior, found re­proach­able on a daily ba­sis by well-known re­formists, op­er­ated for Greece’s sal­va­tion and its re­formist leap. How­ever, be­cause the pri­va­ti­za­tions will most likely not go ahead soon enough, be­cause the tax col­lec­tion mech­a­nism will al­most cer­tainly fail to be­gin func­tion­ing prop­erly, and be­cause the re­ces­sion will con­tinue, there is a se­ri­ous risk of so­cial up­heaval, of un­con­trol­lable vi­o­lence and loss of con­trol, as yes­ter­day’s events illustrated only too vividly. PASOK’s fate con­cerns no one ex­cept its mem­bers and of­fi­cials. The in­ter­est­ing thing about yes­ter­day’s vote is that the ex­treme-right Pop­u­lar Ortho­dox Rally (LAOS) voted against the mem­o­ran­dum and Dora Bakoy­an­nis of the Demo­cratic Al­liance and oth­ers who had ral­lied around her, voted “present.” No one re­ally cares about the ec­cen­tric be­hav­ior of LAOS – it is a shal­low, op­por­tunis­tic party. But Bakoy­an­nis was struck from New Democ­racy be­cause she voted against the first mem­o­ran­dum and she is not known for her po­lit­i­cal cow­ardice. The essence of the mat­ter is that the three par­ties rep­re­sent­ing the broader con­ser­va­tive camp showed a very sim­i­lar re­sponse yes­ter­day de­spite the fact that they hold dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions and share a deep-seated an­tipa­thy for one an­other. It is ludicrous to even con­sider that they could ever share enough com­mon ground to come to­gether, but what this con­ver­gence did show was that PASOK’s cy­cle may well be com­ing to an end.

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