By Katerina Panagopoulou

In January, 2021, PASOK MP Andreas Loverdos [a top contender in the 2021 party leadership race in December of last year] was asked the question always posed to PASOK cadres: “With whom will you collaborate [in a coalition] government], and which party do you view as the opponent?”

“New Democracy is our ideological opponent, but SYRIZA is our existential opponent,” he replied.

A year-and-a-half later, Nikos Androulakis picked up where Loverdos left off.

“The prime minister made clear which party he views as his strategic opponent,” he said.

Whether an ideological, existential, or strategic opponent, PASOK’s decision to sharpen its rhetoric against New Democracy has two consequences.

The first is that it led Kyriakos Mitsotakis for the first time to directly attack PASOK.

The PM openly stated that Androulakis had already decided that he had already decided a while back to clash with New Democracy, and that his exploitation of his own surveillance was is a move in that direction.

The second is that Androulakis has come closer to main opposition SYRIZA, with which he is flirting politically with his phraseology and manner.

Androulakis’ initial tactic was to shift his opposition strategy on the issue of his surveillance to demanding that Mitsotakis leave power.

Secondly, with a focus on the institutional level, as PASOK says, the party in all its statements refers to the PM’s former chief of staff and nephew, Grigoris Dimitriadis, as “the nephew”, in the style of SYRIZA.

In some statements, it would be difficult, if one did not know, to discern whether they were made by PASOK or SYRIZA, such as the declaration that, “Mr.Mitsotakis staged a theatrical play to hide himself and his nephew and to obscure the deep state’s actions.”

Why Kyriakos Mitsotakis attacked Nikos Androulakis while delicately courting [former PASOK leader] Vangelis Venizelos [a long-time PASOK minister, and later party leader and deputy PM who has abandoned politics] is clear.

He is attempting to win over the anti-SYRIZA front that has emerged in centrist politics and to tap into the reservoir of PASOK voters, who, even after the surveillance affair was revealed, in a poll conducted by MARC, responded that they view the government positively (40.3 percent compared to 17.8 percent for SYRIZA).

The question is what PASOK’s intentions are vis a vis its “existential opponent”, not only because SYRIZA devoured PASOK’s base [in the period of the financial crisis], but also perhaps because its voters will not easily forget [SYRIZA-inspired] protests in Syntagma Square with mock gallows set up for PASOK ministers, “Wanted” posters for politicians in the opposing camp, the throwing of yoghurt at politicians, and the effort in parliament to set up trials of former New Democracy and PASOK ministers and an ex-PM regarding the Novartis affair.

Meanwhile, even as PASOK is imitating SYRIZA, the government, in its most recent announcements of generous social benefits and handouts, seemed to be imitating the infamous declaration of former PASOK PM George Papandreou [shortly before Greece’s bankruptcy forced the country to submit to bailout programmes] that “the money exists”.

Somehow, everyone has become mixed up.