On the road to elections

By Pantelis Boukalas

It’s mid-February and we are still some time away from May’s European Parliament and local authority elections. The candidates remain the subject of speculation, both for the European elections and the parties that will participate – with new names and old – and for the local polls. That said, we should be wary about taking opinion polls for granted – we know better, given how many times they have been wrong – and put more thought into where we should place the last vestige of faith we have in the political system.

The first thing that is certain is the Greek political system is in a state of chaos. What with the memorandum and the troika, which have radically redrawn the political map by bringing about fragmentation in some parties, ousters and departures in others and the creation of new groupings, the twin elections in May are also acting as catalysts for major changes. The puzzle, which is currently still more or less in pieces, will soon start taking on its new form, through this will probably only be temporary. So, through March, April and May, until the morning of the day when things will have to start taking on their final shape, the feverish buildup and preparations will continue.

New Democracy will have to fight its many renegades and SYRIZA to make up for numerous mistakes in its selection of candidates and quell some of the passions that run so deep within its ranks. PASOK will be wrestling with the new Initiative of the 58 created by center-leftists in an effort to convince them that Socialist party leader Evangelos Venizelos is the true heir and propagator of Costas Simitis as well as with Democratic Left. Democratic Left, for its part, will be battling Venizelos and PASOK renegade Andreas Loverdos, who struck out alone and took the leftists for a ride, as well as with party cadres who are not happy with playing for two sides, but are also looking for a third.

No party will come out of these elections unscathed, not even the communists of KKE, which will probably face its biggest problems in the period between the anticipated two rounds of the elections if the final battles come down to the people choosing between those who are “constitutional” and the neo-Nazis.

For the renegades to be convinced to drop out of the race in order to increase support for the official candidates of the party to which they once belonged, we will hear them flattered in public. Behind closed doors, however, they will be threatened, frightened and blackmailed into toeing the line. After all, the party leadership knows the bad just as well as the good that its cadres have done. Basically, partisan politics and the leader-centric model of party operations will prevail once again.

And, of course, the candidates put forward by New Democracy and PASOK will pretend not to be under the thumb of their parties.