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Misdirected energy

By Costas Iordanidis

As if growing poverty and record-high unemployment figures were not enough, the nation is now suffering from deepening in-fighting that could prove extremely dangerous. The confrontation has been prompted by escalating clashes between PASOK and New Democracy, the two parties that were dominant in the post-1974 era, on one hand, and SYRIZA, a peculiar mishmash of political entities, on the other.

Any progress achieved with the recent agreement between the government and international lenders was not enough to make up for the fact that the mindless decision to hold two successive elections in May and June 2012 elevated the Left into key player.

Interestingly, Greece’s conservative-led coalition is kept afloat thanks to Democratic Left, a SYRIZA splinter party led by Fotis Kouvelis. Having to rely on this party of 4.6 percent is a source of confusion for the two bigger coalition peers.

The last elections saw Alexis Tsipras’s SYRIZA voted into opposition. Jolted by the endless leaks on the left of his party, PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos has tied his political survival to his verbal attacks against Tsipras.

Meanwhile the disengagement of the right from the core of the conservative party, together with the emergence of Golden Dawn and Independent Greeks, has created problems for ND leader Antonis Samaras who was appointed at the helm of the party because he was deemed the most suitable to maintain unity.

By avoiding a head-on collision with the other parties on the right, Samaras and his aides thought that they could lure conservative voters back into the fold by playing the card of security. It was the right decision and, socially speaking, a necessary one.

However, instead of going about restoring internal security with traditional means – like clamping down on armed guerrilla groups and collecting the thousands of Kalashnikov rifles said to be circulating in the country – the conservatives ignited a fiery debate over whether SYRIZA provides cover for terrorists. They seem to forget that PASOK’s foes associated it with domestic and international terrorism for 30 years and achieved little more than seeing the party monopolize political power for two decades.

Sure, SYRIZA does contain some unruly elements. But purging the party of them is the responsibility of Tsipras alone. If he fails to do so, he will never manage to rise to power. The government’s task, on the other hand, is to govern. But it instead appears to be wasting its energy on publicity stunts when it is questionable whether it will be able to handle the tension.

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday Jan 23, 2013 (21:59)  
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