The name itself, Movement for Change, is a tacit reference to the past but also appears to aim at the future. From a public relations perspective the name gives the impression that it could serve as an umbrella for different forces – but only time will tell if it will.
However, the name of the new center-left party headed by PASOK's Fofi Gennimata is not the biggest issue; the real challenges lie elsewhere, first and foremost in ensuring coordination between the Socialist party and its centrist partner, To Potami, in Parliament and in presenting a common line to the media and society.
It will then have to organize an open and democratic congress to decide how the new party will forge together disparate political ideologies and manage important figures who have not always seen eye-to-eye. The third challenge will be to formulate a realistic growth plan for the country, shape a convincing rhetoric, reaching out to disillusioned voters and making the best possible use of both old and new political officials – on the basis of their true merits.
The new party will also have to ensure that the identity it puts forward is one that is fresh but not hostile toward the past, so as to bring back into the fold voters who moved away from PASOK to SYRIZA.
These are significant challenges.
Some will be annoyed by the strong PASOK influence in the new party. It is also evident that a part of Potami will move to conservative New Democracy as it identifies with its liberal leader if not with the entire party. And beyond the hopes of its leaders and the aspirations of the party and movement members who take part in this new endeavor, what really matters and what will determine its future is its impact on society at large.
The next round of public opinion polls should provide some valuable clues as they will be the first to record the popularity of the alliance between PASOK and Potami, under a single name.
Despite the challenges and the criticism it has already come under, the new center-left party is making an auspicious start. Sure, Gennimata and the other top candidates for the leadership – from Nikos Androulakis to Giorgos Kaminis, and from Stavros Theodorakis to Yiannis Maniatis – have made mistakes. The PASOK chief also appears to lack the energy of someone relatively new to politics and many voters were disappointed that the leadership elections didn't signal a more radical change.
That said, all of the candidates are known for being moderate and sensible, and these are virtues that will be instrumental in rebuilding the country's future. Over the course of the crisis, they have not made promises they couldn't possibly keep and they haven't succumbed to populism. Instead, they have shown political restraint and good economic sense. In other words, they didn't try to deceive and chose the mature path instead – and this alone entitles them to seek the people's support, in the hope that they emerge as a pillar of democratic constancy and political stability.