Commanders without troops
So long as opinion polls show a considerable segment of the electorate shying away from Greece’s two mainstream parties, efforts to lure these seemingly gullible voters will intensify. Among those vying for the undecided vote are the politicians of the increasingly vague political center. They seem to believe that this representational vacuum, as it were, is suitable ground for a political counterattack – or, as a rather poetic PASOK chief Fofi Gennimata put it, for a “creative assault into the future.” Such phraseology, however, does not work anymore. It could be its abuse at the hands of the advertising industry, or it could be the fact that mantras of this sort have been used by politicians in the past to advertise world-saving visions that later proved to be nothing but pipe dreams. The ideological content ascribed to the center by its political suitors is hard to define. The actual number of these suitors is no more certain. Apart from Gennimata, there are also Evangelos Venizelos, George Papandreou, Stavros Theodorakis, Andreas Loverdos, Anna Diamantopoulou and Giorgos Floridis. The list could perhaps be expanded to include Yiannis Boutaris, Giorgos Kaminis, Thanassis Theocharopoulos, Haris Theoharis and Alekos Papadopoulos. Rarely does one see such a high number of potential commanders for an army that does not yet exist. In fact, it may never form – at least with the size and enthusiasm envisaged by those contesting for its leadership. The massive disappointment caused by the choices of centrist politicians while they were in power (or as coalition partners) cannot be remedied through the return of politicians who defected (in fact their return could make others leave) or through lukewarm wishes for unity. PASOKstyle politics is too deeply rooted to cure with the recruitment of yesterday’s cadres, with PR stunts and forced smiles in front of a New Year’s cake. PASOK’s Venizelos is not wrong when he says that “some people at least owe an explanation.” He would be even more right if by saying “some people” he was actually referring to all of PASOK – including himself. The constant migration of the patricians of politics (long cut off from the plebeians) between different parties and self-styled movements, and the transfer of MPs from one party to the next without any convincing explanation strengthen the impression that these purportedly major political events are in fact taking place in a political and ideological vacuum. You can’t make up for lost ground with a weak ideological argument.