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Putting the party above the country

By Costas Iordanidis

The case of Sabiha Suleiman, the Roma activist whose candidacy for the European Parliament was announced by SYRIZA only to be withdrawn shortly afterward, is an illustration of the leftist opposition party's inexperience and immaturity.

In an effort to justify the unjustifiable, SYRIZA’s champions argued that the left is ideologically opposed to any form of “nationalism” and that Suleiman, through her efforts to assimilate Roma children into Greek society, is a nationalist. This is exactly the kind of ideological argument that puts off any conservative Greeks from even considering the left.

The crux of the matter is that this particular candidate was opposed by a section of the Muslim minority in Thrace and as such – in one sense at least – served no purpose to the opposition party’s efforts to win that vote.

Coalition partners New Democracy and PASOK were quick to score points on the back of SYRIZA’s repeated bungling, accusing the opposition party of setting its standards very low. Neither, of course, took the initiative to offer Suleiman a spot on their candidate lists. They obviously thought they couldn’t afford the loss of votes either.

The consequence of this ludicrous policy is that the initiative eventually rested in the hands of the Turkish Consulate in Komotini and so for the first time we are seeing the emergence of an independent minority ticket for the European elections, which may extend to national elections in the future as well.

Of course, the Muslims of Thrace are not a homogenous group led by the Turkish consular authorities, as some ignoramuses contend. These Greeks who follow the Muslim faith are not Turkish agents; far from it.

But a ballot of 42 candidates who will be elected by preferential voting – a measure introduced this year – could also include a number of different trends, including Muslims outside of Thrace, or representatives of groups seeking to enshrine their minority status even though it is not foreseen by the law. It will be interesting to see how Turkey plans to play its cards over the next few days.

The fact is that a string of errors in the past has resulted in one more now. The direct effect of this has been a stronger role for the Turkish Consulate and a greater risk that Thrace will lose some of its sovereignty.

And all of this is happening at a time when the coalition and the opposition are purportedly fighting for Greece’s salvation. But when they start undermining the very things they are supposed to be fighting for, then is it is clear that something is terribly awry. Surely the country is more important than any party.

ekathimerini.com , Thursday April 24, 2014 (09:30)  
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