Papandreou takes big gamble with future, and loses

By DEREK GATOPOULOS Published: November 4, 2011
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— George Papandreou is used to getting his way.

The scion of Greece's leading political dynasty, he has been comfortable with power from an early age. His father and grandfather were both prime ministers, towering figures in postwar Greece, and like them, he has honed the art of the political gamble.


His call for a referendum on Greece's rescue package may have been one gamble too far.

Papandreou on Thursday was forced into a humiliating about-face after returning from the G-20 summit in France to face a mutiny in his own Cabinet over the announcement some have likened to a game of chicken.

Outwardly professorial, Papandreou has shared the intransigence of his late father, Andreas, and grandfather, also named George.

He's also something of a paradox — the quintessential insider haunted by a sense of being an outsider.

His childhood in St. Paul, Minn., where his father taught at a university, won him the nickname “George the American.” He studied at Amherst College and Harvard. During rallies, protesters have chanted “George, Go Home!”

He casts himself as a modernizer out to rid Greece of nepotism.

‘Little George'

Papandreou has another nickname: “Giorgakis” — little George. It's a dig at the sense of inherited power and reflects the growing view that he lacks the leadership skills and inspirational charisma of the elder Papandreous.

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