As the sniping accelerates in Greece’s political succession struggle, the premier’s opponents have started backing up their potshots with snapshots.
For the past few days, an Athens daily has been plastering topless photos of Premier Andreas Papandreou’s wife on its front page in an effort to drive him from office.
The Avriani newspaper says Papandreou, the 76-year-old head of the Socialist Party and dean of Greek politics, is being manipulated by his 40-year-old wife, Dimitra, and should resign.
It opposes Mrs. Papandreou’s political ambitions and has used the revealing pictures of her to embarrass the couple into withdrawing from politics.
Avriani, a onetime Papandreou booster, has doubled its street sales, but it is unlikely to achieve its political aim.
The same pictures appeared in Athens’ conservative press in 1988 - with no apparent effect on Papandreou - when his affair with the former Olympic Airlines attendant made headlines. The couple married in 1989, after Papandreou divorced his American-born wife of 38 years.
Yet the photos have nevertheless angered the premier, who demanded that critics lay off his wife.
“Dimitra has become the target of a brutal and unprecedented attack in the Greek press and by various groups and organizations. It is a disgrace. It is cowardly,” he said in a televised news conference this month.
“They want to hit me? Here I am. Hit me!”
Papandreou, who reportedly is in ill health but has vowed to remain in charge of his party, says he will support his wife if she decides to enter politics.
She has made several highly publicized appearances without her husband recently, inaugurating art exhibits and visiting earthquake victims with high-ranking government officials in tow.