The price of political expediency

By Costas Iordanidis

Developments leading up to the local elections have exposed the ailments of Greece’s political system. Some of the candidates nominated by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras met with a strong reaction from the leftist party’s local organizations.

To be sure, SYRIZA is a loosely connected and in some ways unconventional party. With the exception of the Communist Party (KKE), the Greek left is no stranger to cacophony.

But let’s move on from SYRIZA’s in-party tensions and paradoxes.

After all, although Tsipras’s party is likely to win the next general election – whenever that takes place – SYRIZA often uncomfortably resembles no more than a student sit-in.

Meanwhile, any attempt to analyze the participation of PASOK in the local elections could be taken as an insult to the intelligence of the average Greek voter.

The Socialist party founded by the late Andreas Papandreou has essentially ceased to exist.

And then there is the turmoil on the right. New Democracy’s handling of all issues related to the upcoming local elections has made little sense. Instead of a going for a head-to-head collision with SYRIZA – given the highly polarized mood – Prime Minister and ND leader Antonis Samaras for some reason decided to test the loyalty, as it were, of some party members.

Apostolos Tzitzikostas, who is currently Central Macedonia governor, comes from a well-known conservative Thessaloniki family. He ticks all the boxes to represent the region’s conservative voters. In addition, before announcing his candidacy, he must have had some assurances from the ND leadership, or, at least, no clear objection had been raised.

Samaras’s decision to nominate Yiannis Ioannidis, a former basketball coach from Thessaloniki, is unlikely to increase ND’s penetration in the region. The two candidates will most probably share the conservative vote.

A similar scenario appears to be unfolding in the Athens municipality. ND picked Aris Spiliotopoulos several months after Nikitas Kaklamanis said he would run to win back the seat.

Faced with the specter of a heavy defeat at the upcoming European Parliament elections, the conservative leadership – in agreement with PASOK – decided to hold local government elections first. The idea was that ND’s blue colors would dominate the maps on voters’ TV screens after the first Sunday ballot. The risk of course is that voters might instead be faced with the black of Golden Dawn. These things happen when political expediency becomes the guiding principle.