Developments at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) confirmed that Greece’s political landscape is gradually reverting to the traditional bipolar system of yesteryear, a system that came to an abrupt end with the country’s financial meltdown.
New Democracy and SYRIZA are now the two main players, while the political survival of the left-of-center Movement for Change alliance (KINAL) is at stake as the dominant duo are making inroads into the right and left of PASOK’s latest political reincarnation.
The conservatives managed to hang on, putting the electoral collapse of May 2012 (when ND garnered a mere 18.8 percent of the vote) quickly behind them. PASOK, on the other hand, all but vanished. It may have recovered slightly considering the 4.7 percent it got in the 2014 election, but the political momentum does not appear to be in its favor. The party of Fofi Gennimata and the segment of voters that it represents are under pressure from both left and right.
On the right, there is the discourse and the actual policies adopted by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis which are in a liberal direction. Animated by the political origins and the beliefs of its leader, New Democracy is infiltrating the middle ground. It was no coincidence that Mitsotakis chose to wrap up his speech at TIF with references to the late statesman Eleftherios Venizelos.
Meanwhile, Alexis Tsipras, the former prime minister and SYRIZA chief, has wedded a fresh, center-left profile with a strategic decision to expand his party in a bid to appeal to the political center. At TIF, Tsipras made reference to his intention to pursue a hard-hitting albeit constructive opposition. He admitted to past mistakes and delusions and announced his intention that the party apparatus, which evolved when its electoral power was in the area of 4 percent, will be restyled in order to better represent a broader section of society.
SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, the idea is, will be less SYRIZA and more Progressive Alliance.
In light of this, the future appears grim for the enervated KINAL, which is also plagued by inner friction. Officials are openly questioning the leader and her decisions amid a cacophony over the party’s ideological direction. In a clear sign of its political confusion, the party recently released a Soviet-inspired poster that sparked a fair share of controversy among its moderate supporters.
Despite KINAL’s decent showing at the last election (8 percent), the nascent political and social momentum does not seem to bode well for Gennimata’s party. It might end up the victim of a new bipolar system that seems bound to be strengthened.