The first round of voting this coming Sunday to elect a leader for the “new center-left party” – as everyone is calling the coalition that will emerge from the process – is basically the first step in an effort to glue back together all the different pieces that resulted from the fragmentation of the socialist PASOK party.
The creation of the new party is aimed at taking back some of the ground lost from the founding of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement by Andreas Papandreou and the modernized version of the party under former prime minister Costas Simitis, to its annihilation under Evangelos Venizelos, after a destructive stint at the party’s helm by George Papandreou.
There is something rather melancholic about the process, like a futile attempt at a political resurrection. The fact is that the center-left “shop” that governed the country for 20-odd years and brought so many ills upon it, has been taken over by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in particular and his SYRIZA party more generally.
Moreover, the new party has little raison d’etre following Tsipras’s dramatic volte-face in September 2015, when he fully accepted the dictates of the institutions and the eurozone’s finance ministers – to the degree that, after a number of amateurish plays that cost the country dearly, the radical-left administration has become arguably the most European government this country has ever had. The only traits of its former personality that it still retains are intangible things like attitude and style – none of which is of any concern whatsoever to the country’s creditors.
The whole center-left party idea is almost a romantic endeavor, an expression of nostalgia for a bygone era, a cry by a few well-known politicians and a few unknowns of “We are still alive!” It is, in this sense, rather sweet – if you can overlook the destruction wreaked by PASOK.
The process will also provide some comfort to those citizens who have been behind PASOK all this time, who benefited for better or worse – a bit like a memorial service.
SYRIZA is hoping that the new party will attract citizens who may otherwise vote for New Democracy, while the opposition is looking at a possible coalition partner if it is elected in the next polls.
For its part, this column wishes all the candidates equally good luck.