Say hello to a new era where PASOK’s ability to rule with a comfortable parliamentary advantage is over. With the repudiation of austerity policies at the ballot box, it saw its vote plummeting from 43.9% in the last elections to 13.2%. “PASOK is rotten” said its leader -Evangelos Venizelos- to his aides, highlighting the need for readjustment as many of those sustaining the party’s state electoral clientèle -nurtured by favoritism, contracts, and subventions- seem to “abandon the ship”. With perks cutbacks under the bailout agreements, high-profile members of major trade union bodies cut ties with the party, while others move around on the political spectrum, seeking shelter with hints of electoral success.
Thanks to Simitis’ embrace of neo-liberalism in the mid 90’s and Papandreou’s approval of austerity measures that kicked Greeks in the guts, PASOK abandoned certain clauses of its own charter and shifted to the right, setting voters deprived of a genuine “socialist” choice. Now Venizelos will have to use his soft media skills to reposition the party in the centre-left, a challenging task considering Syriza’s rapid gains in popularity. Putting his six-point plan on the table, he strives to promote the idea of reviewing Greece’s loan agreement and come across as a potent force in politics that has taken stock of negotiations with international leaders over the last year. Although determined to start building the party’s reputation from scratch and win back a part of the votes lost to Syriza, Democratic Left or apathy, the feasibility of the matter in hand within a few weeks time remains questionable.
Admittedly overshadowed and squeezed between New Democracy and Syriza, PASOK sees itself playing a secondary role for the first time in decays. To this end Venizelos puts the message of “unity efforts in view of country’s troubles” ahead of rivalries. Since the hard-line attack on Tsipras somehow backfires on PASOK but works for New Democracy, Venizelos mellowed down the confrontational rhetoric against Syriza without keeping the divides aside though.