Just when things get grim in Greece, you can always turn to the vanishing PASOK Anti-Socialists for a few yuks, featuring their answer to Abbott and Costello, current leader Evangelos “The Opportunist” Venizelos and the man he succeeded, so to speak, former premier George “The Money is There” Papandreou. You just don’t know who’s on first with these guys.
For reasons known only to the gullible who supported the party, PASOK won the 2009 elections with 44 percent, giving Papandreou a chance to show off world-class skills in governance incompetence, finding himself hounded out of office two years later by relentless protests, strikes and riots against austerity measures that came with a bailout he said wouldn’t be needed.
Always lurking behind him with a knife aimed at his back was Venizelos, whose ego knows no bounds even though he failed to take over the party in a failed coup against Papandreou who had lost twice to New Democracy Capitalist leader Costas Karamanlis for the Prime Minister’s office. Losing to Karamanlis is like being beaten by the patsy team that plays the Harlem Globetrotters but Papandreou managed to do it.
Under Venizelos, who further sold out the principles and soul of the party to become Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister in the coalition government of Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, PASOK has plummeted to somewhere between 3-5 percent of the vote and has desperately attached itself to a new center-left movement Olive Tree, that is about to be felled in May elections for Greek municipalities and the European Parliament.
With the party ready to be embalmed, Papandreou, undoubtedly itching to do it, gave Venizelos a bitch slap hit in the head, voting against a measure in a critical reform bill that will let Greek banks sell shares at big losses to private investors.
Venizelos never saw it coming but can’t eject a former prime minister whose father founded the party and was left to issue a statement taking a swipe at Papandreou – but not by name.
“Hypocrisy and personal political games are what led this country and the political system to today’s situation,” said the PASOK leader. “These are the kind of practices that we need to overturn.”
Venizelos also accused Papandreou of failing to raise the issue in the days leading up to the vote, when PASOK MPs met to discuss the content of the omnibus bill.
Papandreou responded to his successor with a sarcastic shot back at Venizelos.“It is true that hypocrisy and personal political games are what led this country and the political system to today’s situation,” he said. “These are the kind of practices that we need to overturn.”
And with that sad exchange, they sealed the fate of PASOK and Thank Zeus, the reports of its death won’t be exaggerated and it’s headed for the dustbin of history and true justice: to be forgotten.
Papandreou is now just a back-bencher money-sucking piece of irrelevance who occasionally attends Parliament as an MP in between giving paid speeches on how he brought Greece to ruin, something he gets paid to do as well while teaching at Ivy League colleges Harvard and Columbia, destroying their reputations.
PASOK’s demise is being presided over by Venizelos, who’d step over a dead pensioner and on a dead one if it would help him, and has turned his back on the party’s core constituency of people who falsely believed PASOK was a party of the people, and not of bankers and international interests. Well, they deserved it anyway for trusting people like him.
Venizelos is a Party of One: him, and nothing else matters. He joined a coalition with Samaras so that he wouldn’t be a backbencher in the Parliament after PASOK in 2012 won only 13.18 percent of the vote and 33 seats to finish third behind Samaras’ bunch and the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA).
Since then, ejects, rejects, and defectors have shrunk PASOK to 27 seats and further irrelevancy and if Venizelos hadn’t joined a coalition that at first included the even-more non-essential Democratic Left (DIMAR) which has since left, he wouldn’t be a household name, which is all he wants.
With the coalition in jeopardy, Venizelos couldn’t afford to oust Papandreou or Apostolos Kaklamanis, who failed to give their votes to the reform bill, although tossing party members who defy orders how to vote in Greece’s plutocratic oligarchy is standard practice.
To save face, Papandreou and Venizelos pretend in public to back each other in a phony lovefest that’s so evident you can see the disdain for each other etched on their faces. Between them, they’ve managed to destroy a party that helped create today’s crushing economic crisis by hiring everyone who voted for them, never believing the day of reckoning would come
Where New Democracy is cold, callous and ruthless, PASOK is a pathetic, unprincipled bunch of invertebrates who’ve gotten what they deserved and it would be fun to watch them implode except Papandreou and Venizelos are so unlikeable you’d rather turn the channel hoping to see a rerun of New Democracy’s Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis selling Greek history books, the qualification that led him to higher office.
Even better: see the real Abbott and Costello doing what they did best – being funny – because when it comes to Papandreou and Venizelos, who aren’t and are beyond ridicule, no one’s on first, I don’t care, and at this point, no one else does either.