As dynasties go there are few to match the road of Papandreous, who’ve been on the coronary heart of Greek politics since earlier than the primary world struggle.
Now the most recent on this lengthy line, George Papandreou is making one probably the most audacious come-back bids in latest European politics.
Whereas the mainstream left events of the historic European left just like the French Socialists or Britain’s Labour social gathering are down on the ground there’s a spring within the steps of different centre-left events in Europe.
They rule, normally in coalition, in Nordic Europe, in Spain and Portugal, and have claimed the chancellorship in Germany even when forming a coalition between ‘pink’ social democrats, ‘orange’ liberals and ‘inexperienced’ greens is proving difficult.
Key ministries in Italy are held by the left and even Switzerland’s most dynamic cupboard minister (‘Federal Counsellor’ in Swiss-speak) is Alain Berset, a 49-year previous French-speaking socialist.
Greece was the primary nation within the EU to see its conventional twentieth century left social gathering – PASOK – being massively rejected by voters. Political scientists talked of the ‘Pasokification’ of European social democracy within the twenty first century. Even the once-mighty German SPD may solely muster 25 per cent of votes within the federal elections in September.
However in reality PASOK was by no means a real European social democratic social gathering however was a left variant of the clientel-ist and household tribal politics which have run Greece in its fashionable democratic period.
The grandfather of the present George Papandreou, additionally referred to as George Papandreou, was a left-liberal however anti-communist political chief who needed Greece to grow to be a European republic each after 1918 and once more after the Nazi occupation ended 25 years later.
Winston Churchill needed the restoration of the monarchy and British troops had been used to brutally put down efforts by the Greek left to kind a reformist authorities, as occurred in Britain, France, and most European nations after 1945.
The American head of US intelligence operations in Athens labored with far-right monarchists and mentioned Papandreou ought to be shot. Sooner or later, Papandreou got here again to energy through elections – however then was hit by the army coup that turned Greece right into a dictatorship between 1967 and 1974.
In the meantime, his son Andreas and his grandson George had been in Minnesota the place Andreas Papandreou taught economics. The younger George was born in 1952. He was introduced up and educated in America adopted by the London College of Economics and a stint in Sweden the place the household sought refuge through the years of the army dictatorship.
Many within the Greek political elite are despatched overseas for college schooling and younger George Papandreou’s politics had been fashioned by progressive political intellectuals like JK Galbraith in America or Sweden’s social democratic chief, Olof Palme and Germany’s Willy Brandt.
The formation of PASOK as a leftist, nationalist, social gathering within the Eighties helped propel Andreas Papandreou to energy. Clientlist politics works properly for the pork-barrel proper. Leftist clientelism normally means permitting commerce unions or regional and municipal governments to regulate sectors of the financial system to serve their very own ends not a wider public good.
George Papandreou turned social gathering chief of PASOK and prime minister in 2009 at a disastrous second in Greek historical past. He had been an modern international minister however Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy demanded Greece swallow harsh austerity measures to guard German and French banks and corporations investments in Greece after the monetary crash.
George Papandreou was a moderniser with document of bringing in much-needed reforms and making an attempt to get Greek delivery and different oligarchs or wealthy professionals to pay a modicum of tax.
However Merkel and Sarkozy and northern European finance minister wedded to inflexible fiscal orthodoxy compelled him out of workplace in 2011 and handed energy to their European Folks’s Get together affiliate in Greece, who obeyed their orders to impose probably the most savage cuts imposed on a European democracy since 1945.
Greece’s GDP dropped 25 per cent, pensions had been halved, and half 1,000,000 of the best-educated Greeks fled the nation as poverty soared below the EU’s merciless and strange punishment economics.
The consequence was the election of a hard-left Syriza authorities with its loudmouth populist finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis. George Papandreou continued his work as president of the Socialist Worldwide and was near Clinton and Obama-era economists and the social democratic reformist pondering that introduced the left to energy in Sweden and different Nordic states.
The loss of life on the age of 56 of the chief of the successor social democratic social gathering in Greece, Fofi Gennimata, has opened up the potential of a return to prime desk politics for George Papandreou.
The present prime minister of Greece additionally hails from one of many two households – the Mitsotakis and Karamanlis clans who’ve dominated the Greek proper, a lot because the Papandreous have held sway on the left.
George Papandreou isn’t any firebrand however has a greater handle ebook of progressive left politicians and thinkers than anybody else in Europe. Like Joe Biden he has lived and breathed politics for half a century. His inquiring, courteous, solution-searching model is way from the twentieth century Greek populist demagogy which Syriza adopted.
If he emerges as chief of Greece’s slowly-reviving social democratic custom his father and grandfather will look down from Greece’s political equal of Mount Olympus and need the final Papandreou luck.