Giorgos Kaminis and Stavros Theodorakis saw their political ambitions go up in smoke on Sunday night following the first round of the vote to elect a new leader for a party that still has no name, no manifesto, no clear ideology, and no concrete strategy about who it will follow and who it will leave behind.
The mayor of Athens and the leader of the centrist To Potami party had likely both realized in the runup to the vote that they were not necessarily part of the new center-left party’s future. There were in fact many signs that their inclusion in the race was made to lend a bit of color to a procedure that was from the start intended to confirm the political hegemony of PASOK. And they both seem to have read those signs. Following the instinct of self-preservation, Kaminis made clear that he would not step down as mayor, while Theodorakis ensured that the party’s parliamentary group would remain intact until the next general election. The future will tell if Potami MPs (like other party officials have done) condemn his behavior – which is that of an arbitrary owner. For the time being, Sunday’s ballot showed that 20,000 people voted for Theodorakis – a figure dwarfed by the 220,000 who backed To Potami in September 2015, let alone the 374,000 who supported the party in January in the same year. As for Kaminis, his unconvincing public language failed to garner more than 13.5 percent.
The number of people who took part in Sunday’s ballot – 210,000 – is also small compared to the 1 million supporters said to have voted during the election that installed George Papandreou at the helm of PASOK back in February 2004. It’s also small compared to the 815,000 who cast a ballot for PASOK, To Potami and the Movement of Democratic Socialists (KIDISO) in January 2015, or the 560,000 votes gathered in September 2015 by Democratic Alignment and To Potami.
In other words, you can’t really say that what we’re dealing with here is a strong political current. Sure, given the overall disappointment out there, 210,000 is no insignificant figure. But 75,000 across greater Athens by no means constitutes a strong current.
The PASOK mechanism went into full swing, allowing party leader Fofi Gennimata and MEP Nikos Androulakis (who is close to former Socialist minister Evangelos Venizelos) to claim first and second place respectively. However, if the experience of New Democracy is any guide, Gennimata’s victory should not be taken for granted.