Photo: Personal archive
In the last elections, PASOK had a low result but not the bad one predicted by black forecasts. The Socialists are even in power again and have supported the coalition cabinet of Antonis Samaras.
However, the party is "licking" its wounds from its governmental experience from 2009 until last November and its new leader Evangelos Venizelos has promised a purge and a complete change in party leadership.
GRReporter contacted one of the young deputies with a strong presence in this process. Odysseas Konstandinopoulos talked about the participation of PASOK in the office, the "lost" voters who had voted for SYRIZA and how the "green" party sees the reforms.
Mr. Konstandinopoulos, last night, the government received a vote of confidence from the three parties that support it. How do you define the behaviour of the opposition?
First, let me say that we are at the beginning of something that has not happened in Greece in the last 35 years. Three parties with different ideological bases are cooperating to lead the country out of the impasse.
The second conclusion is that the main opposition party chose to be against everything. I do not think this behaviour is associated with the denial of political opponents. These are mostly the negative messages it is sending to investors not to participate in the privatisation process. But it is indispensable in order for the country to give impetus to substantial reforms.
I hope that all political forces will soon be able to realize the great responsibility of taking the country out of the deadlock, because if this attempt fails, not only the government but also all of us will bear the burden.
It is clear that PASOK supports the government. Is there any line, however, which will make the party withdraw its participation in the coalition, if crossed?
Look, we are now talking about a government that received a vote of confidence a few hours ago. Therefore, such a discussion would be untimely. We have set a framework and we believe it is necessary to revise the bailout terms, as the three leaders stated in their speeches on the government programme in parliament. We must unite in an inviolable domestic front, which will help us to convince our partners that it is worth making these efforts.
According to commentators, the higher rates of radical left SYRIZA in the two election races are mostly due to former PASOK voters. Do you think the party can and must get them back, since they supported a very different policy proposal?
Over the past two years, PASOK has paid a disproportionate price. To put it differently, the opposition of the time is gradually coming round to our words. This is not to tell us that we were right but because we are making a serious and realistic proposal, which is not putting us in an awkward negotiating position.
We had talks before but we found walls in front of us. Today, when correlations are changing in Europe and we see changes like the inclusion of Cyprus in the financial support mechanism, we should prove to all Greeks, not just to those who left PASOK, that they can trust their politicians. That it is worth making an effort to lead the country out of the impasse. If we manage to do that, people will understand what we have accomplished over the past two and a half years and will support our efforts.
PASOK is currently in a process of reorganization.
Yes, this is a period of rediscovery and revival. This is a new experience and I am sure that the result will be completely successful.
However, there are members of the party, who some describe as "burdens". Are those members, who were leading figures until recently, part of the process of renewal and how do you plan to deal with this?
The citizens who voted for PASOK in recent elections and all those, who did not support us in conditions of extreme polarization, or others, who wanted to send a message with their vote, expect PASOK to recover. And they expect us all to put our personal interests in the second place after the common good - first, for the sake of the country and second, for the sake of the party. I want to believe that all will understand this and no one will put his personal ambitions above the party and the citizens, who are worried about the future of their country.
During the debate on the vote of confidence, the three parties that make up the coalition government continued to insist that there would be no redundancies in the public sector. How realistic is this promise?
This is not only a realistic promise. It is something reasonable that will be the subject of negotiations with our European partners. The point is that, no matter how many people are dismissed and even if we go to extremes to fire half of the civil servants, the public sector could not function if no reorganization is carried out and unless each of the civil servants takes the responsibility to work diligently.
Therefore, it is not the dismissals that are important, which are pedagogical, as imposed by the Troika, but the reorganization of the public sector, which is the great "patient" and must be healed to perform its functions properly.