COMMENT

Curve balls in politics

By Costas Iordanidis

The interest in the center-left is quite fascinating, especially given that it was parties on this side of the political spectrum that are almost exclusively responsible for the destruction of the Greek economy since the restoration of democracy. Nevertheless, the left continues to exercise an irresistible charm on society, and especially the academic community and the Greek elite, as it were.

With the rise of PASOK to power in 1981, this “elite” gradually joined the new regime. It vehemently opposed the fragile New Democracy government under Constantine Mitsotakis and put its full support behind Costas Simitis, singing the praises of the “popular capitalism” of the stock market, which left nothing but ruins in its wake. It then turned onto Costas Karamanlis when he decided to lock horns with the most powerful economic players in this country and felt a sense of accomplishment when George Papandreou came to power, only to drag him over the coals when he dared to suggest that major shareholders at banks had to pay.

All of this, of course, was up to the election of May 2012, which brought SYRIZA into the main opposition and saw the emergence from the right of ND of Independent Greeks and Golden Dawn. The political system had become infected and the sterilization process was set in motion.

After waiting too long to see whether it would get some its voters back from Golden Dawn, New Democracy finally decided to set the law against the far-right party rather than fight it on a political level. This is how it sterilized the right.

For the other side of the spectrum, it made some efforts to deal with SYRIZA by propounding the theory that violence from the left and the right are equatable, and by suggesting that the leftist party was embracing values that run counter to the Constitution. These efforts were soon more or less abandoned.

The sterilization process in the center-left, always addicted to endless discussion, took a much different form with the emergence of the Initiative of the 58 and Olive Tree, both of which are basically last-ditch attempts at reviving something of the Simitris era, just as SYRIZA is a resurrection of primal PASOK.

And just as things started to settle into a bipolar political scene comprising ND and SYRIZA, The River appeared like a curve ball to turn it all around. It is likely that more parties will emerge before the May election for local government and the European Parliament that will further sap the strength of the bipolar system. There is also serious concern that the elections will signal the extinction of PASOK and some drop in ND’s popularity, which would put the government coalition in jeopardy.

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