It has only been a few months since Kyriakos Mitsotakis was elected leader of New Democracy even though pundits had him pegged as an outsider. A part of the conservative old guard has been unable to accept his victory. Maybe it’s a generational thing, a feeling that Mitsotakis’s advancement will relegate the previous generation to portraits on the walls at party headquarters. Whatever they may believe, ND needed to turn over a new leaf and become a modern political party. Of course it still has some way to go.
Politics has a lot do with expectations. The belief was cultivated in the conservative ranks that the leftist government of Alexis Tsipras would fall because it would be unable to pass the measures needed to wrap up the bailout review. There was no rhyme or reason to this rationale. Also, why would the opposition want to win September’s elections and dirty its hands with such unpopular measures? Once the measures were successfully passed, opinion swung the other way: “Now they’re here to stay; there’s no getting rid of them.” This second prediction is just as ridiculous as the first – recent experience should have taught us that only the arrogant and stupid can claim to know what the future will bring in the memorandum era.
Tsipras, for example, has used up the capital of his entire four-year term in just a year-and-a-half in order to win two general elections and a referendum. So what? In politics, Friday’s victor may be Monday’s loser.
So, how about some patience? Both ND and Mitsotakis need some time to mature, to bond as a team and to come up to speed with modern times. The party today is a vague mix of the old profligate political system and something new that has yet to take shape, while is it also prone to making mistakes as it did by walking out of Parliament last week.
Greece needs a strong opposition just as much as its needs a strong government. Mitsotakis is ready in terms of how and with whom he will govern, but the question is how he will manage to strike a balance between the old guard and the new element in the party, which includes many vultures waiting for him to fail. The young politician has shown that he has patience and courage when required. He has time because the people’s anger with the government will probably not spill over until the fall. The opposition will have no shortage of cronies. There is no rush or call for dramatic decisions.
The people want to see that a leader has the people, the recipe and an understanding of the situation on the ground in order to govern. It will also take a lot of maneuvering to convince the most skeptical voters to think of ND as an alternative.