Tom Ellis TOM ELLIS

ND’s overoptimism risks turning win into loss

COMMENT

TAGS: Politics

New Democracy vice president Adonis Georgiadis has supporters and rivals of equal fervor, even within the ranks of his own party. Many question his attitude, which they find unnecessarily hard-line, especially compared to the more “comme il faut” – as he recently termed it – stance of moderate New Democracy cadres like Nikos Dendias and Costis Hatzidakis.

That said, he has the ability to keep his finger firmly on the public pulse, reading the shifts in the political landscape and positioning himself accordingly. It was this astuteness that prompted him to lower expectations with regard to the conservative party’s performance in May’s European Parliament elections by pointing to a win with at least 29.5 percent of the vote.

The ND vice president’s forecast of a win for his side with a difference of at least 3.5 percent from SYRIZA sounds conservative, but it is more useful than the latest overly optimistic projections. He went on to add that in the national elections of January 2015, SYRIZA beat ND with a margin that “was double that of the [2014] European elections, as will also be the case now.” That means a New Democracy win with a difference of 7 percent.

Pollsters insist that data pointing to a huge difference of between 10 and 15 percentage points in favor of New Democracy are the product of objective scientific analyses. However, if we account for the present lack of rallying in SYRIZA’s ranks, the fact that many of its supporters may question its record during the past four years but will ultimately vote for it again, and the “tools” – like social handouts – that any government has at its disposal in the runup to an election, it is obvious that the landscape is a lot more complex and fluid than pollsters and parties may think.

This is why a moderate approach is called for. If New Democracy were to win by a margin of 15 percent and secure an absolute majority by itself, it would be a triumph. However, building its pre-election strategy on the overly optimistic premise of a resounding victory is risky. By the same token, a five-party Parliament should also not be taken for granted. The Greek Solution party may muster the 3 percent it needs to enter the House. The Union of Centrists is also close to the 3 percent threshold. Finally, the joining of several forces to the left of SYRIZA, including the three parties of former speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou and former ministers Panagiotis Lafazanis and Yanis Varoufakis, on a single ticket that would allow them to also enter Parliament should not be completely ruled out.

Sure, conditions look promising, allowing the New Democracy leadership to be optimistic, but they do not merit overdoing it. Claims of crushing the opposition by 10 or 15 percentage points are not helpful in the sense that the party could end up winning by, say, 5 or 6 percent – achieving a huge turnaround of 13 percent compared to the last elections of 2015 – and still have many interpreting the result as unclear, if not a defeat. That is why the best approach would be restraint and modest expectations.

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