Once a party with a big working class base. Affiliated to the trade union movement and see-sawed in and out of running the country. No, not the Labour Party but a fellow member of Socialist International, Greece’s Pasok.
A party that was so powerful and had mass support this weekend was humiliated by the voters. Gaining only 13 seats on 4.7% of the popular vote and falling to 7th place in the election. It only just managed to overcome the 3% threshold that parties have to reach to get a seat at all in the Greek parliament.
In the eighties it was the natural party of government the main centre-left organisation but now the voters have consigned it to the dustbin of Greek political history.
How come? How did a once strong, relevant and popular party loose out so massively? Well, the answer, it was a long time coming.
The easy answer is to blame austerity. Sure, developing a policy of cuts and applying those cuts to your own working class supporters is partly responsible but it’s far from being the whole story. No, not by a long way.
What really did for it? It ceased to be a movement based on its original supporters to one run by a small self-serving political class. A class that took the people’s support for granted. Parts of the country would always be wedded to Pasok – well that’s what they thought. Oh, how seriously they got it wrong.
Being part of the establishment, it played along with conventional wisdom. When the financial crisis hit Greece, Pasok won the subsequent general election offering an answer. Did they? You bet they didn’t. They offered no alternative to austerity.
Forget Keynes the conventional wisdom stemming from Europe, the IMF was cuts and more cuts. So Pasok mildly went along with it. They lost power. But still they propped up the Conservatives in Greece that carried out further cuts. ‘Cos there weren’t any alternative according to the establishment.
The result, a national income shrunk by a quarter since the banking crisis. A quarter of the workforce out of work with not a prospect of finding a job. 6 out of 10 young people unemployed, no prospects, no future,
Pasok were seen as part of the problem and offered no solutions. The new kids on the block had more to offer, they offered hope.
Now they’ve replaced a once mighty party.
In the words of the movies, any similarity to any party nearer home is purely co-incidental. Or is it?