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Greek Tragedy Running in the Prime Minister's Family?

It is the most crucial week yet for Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in his efforts stave off default for the country.

The former Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou
Pierre Verdy | AFP | Getty Images
The former Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou

While his ruling PASOK party is expected to narrowly push through a voteon 28 billion euros ($39.8 billion) in painful austerity measures and 50 billion euros in privatizations in parliament later this week, the prime minister will likely be remembered as little more than the tragic hero the Greek drama that has unfolded over the last decades.

In October 2009, American-born and educated Papandreou won the snap national election and ended a six-year reign by the country's biggest opposition party New Democracy. After his victory, Papandreou said: "The elections reflect the people's will for change and a better future".

Change they got, but not the better future. During the last two years in office, the Mediterranean country not only had to be rescued by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, but also plunged into the worst recession in 36 years.

To save his beloved country, Papandreou had no other choice but to renege on the core promises of his Socialist party, like social justice and a pledge to abstain from privatizations.

Under immense pressure from EU and IMF officials and creditors, the prime ministers' socialist party was forced to implement the toughest austerity measuresin the country in decades, leaving the people enraged by the government's void campaign pledges and disillusioned about their own future.

As much as he has to break his party principles, the more important break will that from his family dynasty's past.

Ironically, George Papandreou must not go far to look far for the real culprit for the dilemma he is in.

While the PASOK party has conveniently put the blame for crooked state finance accounting on the previous government, it is the prime minister's own father Andreas Papandreou who has paved the way for the country's malaise.

As he embarked on excessive expenditures in the early 1980s, the country saw meteoric wage rises, an unprecedented redistribution of wealth among other things, leading to massive inflation and a bloated public sector.

Not few historians say it was Andreas Papandreou who fostered an environment of corruption and tax evasion during his tenure — mistakes that his son must now rectify while drawing the ire of his people.

Like father, like son is simply no longer an option for George Papandreou.

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