A slice of recent Greek history has been immortalised as a new word in the European political vocabulary. In English it is most commonly known as ‘pasokification’, in French as ‘pasokisation’, and in German ‘PASOKisierung’, while somewhere in the web there even appeared a verb, to ‘pasokieren’. It is now common currency among politicians and analysts, while twitter uses have a special hashtag for it: #pasokification.
The term describes the phenomenon of the electoral collapse of a hitherto all-powerful social-democratic party that dominated the political scene of its country for many decades. Of course, it refers to the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, also known as PASOK and its dramatic fall to oblivion. The word first appeared after the Greek elections of 2012, but it started getting popular after the elections of 2015, when the leftist SYRIZA won 36.3% of the vote and the centrist PASOK was trounced down to insignificance, with a meagre 4.7%, down almost 40 points from the elections of 2009.
For most Greeks, who have abandoned PASOK in droves since, when in government in the period 2009-2015, it led their country to the suffocating economic supervision of the IMF, ECB and EU troika, the new, foreign sounding word ‘pasokification’ can only be a source of mirth and, possibly, pride. ‘We made history!’
But for the centrist pundits using it in the rest of Europe ‘pasokification’ is a warning, a threat, a nightmare – an omen of a future that nobody wants to see realised. It refers to the loss of electoral appeal that is plaguing European social democratic parties since the beginning of the crisis, as they have repeatedly proven themselves unable to move out of neoliberalism’s political and ideological hold. Inevitably its use has picked since the shocking defeat of the Labour party in Britain in May 2015. Most likely the new term is here to stay.
This is of course not the first Greek-related political neologism. Since the British elections, the long established ‘Grexit’ has inspired ‘Brexit’, while in the spring of 2012 Alexis Tsipras coined the name ‘Hollandreou’, a socialist Frankenstein who starts promisingly like the newly elected Hollande and ends up defeated and ridiculed like Papandreou, the PASOK leader who resigned in 2012 having followed too slavishly the neoliberal line. The twitter hashtag #hollandreou is still going strong!
It must be a comicotragic realisation for PASOK’s leaders that their oft-repeated dream to ‘modernise’ Greece, to ‘Europeanise’ it, putting the country at the centre of European politics, has taken such a literal turn.