Since becoming Greece’s first Socialist prime minister in 1981, Andreas Papandreou has often angered other Western leaders with his anti-American rhetoric. But in Greece, where past involvement in domestic politics by Western powers is bitterly remembered, Papandreou’s defiance struck a patriotic chord. And last week, after a fiercely fought election campaign, the 66-year-old former U.S. citizen rode a wave of nationalism to a second four-year term. His Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) captured 161 seats in the 300-member parliament, beating back a strong challenge from the conservative New Democracy Party. Declared the victorious Papandreou, as cheering supporters filled the streets: “This is a great defeat for the forces of reaction, both foreign and domestic.”
The size of the Socialist victory surprised political analysts, who had forecast a minority government. PASOK captured 46 per cent of the popular vote compared with 41 per cent for New Democracy, 10 per cent for the pro-Moscow Communist Party and two per cent for the more moderate Eurocommunists. New Democracy leader Constantine Mitsotakis —whose party actually gained 10 seats for a total of 125—blamed his defeat on PASOK “dirty tricks.” But experts said Papandreou had picked up support from the Communists when he decided in March to replace conservative president Constantine Caramanlis with a left-leaning judge, Christos Sartzetakis. Others contended voters were alarmed by the prospect of a return to right-wing rule, which has dominated modern Greek politics. According to pollster Panayotis Dimitras, Greeks “would rather vote for a dead dream than an old nightmare.” After the swearing-in of a streamlined 19-member cabinet, Papandreou vowed to stabilize Greece’s ailing economy during his second term. He also reaffirmed his long-standing goal of removing four U.S. military bases from Greek soil—but declined to name a firm date. Indeed, Papandreou’s rhetoric is often more inflammatory than his actions. The Greek leader came to office vowing to withdraw from NATO and the European Community. Instead, he has remained an unpredictable member of both, keeping his partners constantly guessing about his next move.
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