CULTURE

Costas Karamanlis wins over the viewing voters

Hands on the desk, ready for verbal battle, New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis was the personality of the program on Alpha Channel. In the heady pre-election period from now until March 7, he will be the personality of the day, together with the other contender, the future PASOK chairman, George Papandreou. Karamanlis is a young man with the seriousness of a young leader who has been chosen by his party, who implemented renewal in good time and not when there was no other choice. Showing no sign of stage fright, Karamanlis was articulate, spoke good, accurate Greek, without hesitations (or the translations from English of the Papandreous, father and son). Without raising his voice, or becoming aggressive, he listened patiently when journalist Nikos Hadzinikolaou posed questions. Karamanlis, 47, bypassed the shadow of Papandreou, 52, and the weight of the political names both of them bear, to speak about ND’s platform for the economy, health, society, and on combating entangled interests «that are still thriving,» as he said. He refused to describe the sudden withdrawal of «Messiah» Papandreou from the routine of a government post as renewal, but he won over viewers by describing his opponent as decent. Both contenders will be judged by the voters, who will decide which one will become premier and which one opposition leader. That’s why they sat up late on Thursday, and again yesterday when Papandreou spoke on NET. And they’ll watch intently when the contenders take part in debates. Karamanlis wants plenty of debates with dialogue, «and without being told where to look and not to answer each other but only the journalist. Although I’ll be facing both of them, Simitis as premier and Papandreou as president of PASOK,» said Karamanlis, laughing for the first time. Karamanlis won the attention of the viewers. There was no populism in his words, no flirting with the camera, and no mention of his new family (though it is one of his great advantages). Viewers didn’t see Papandreou in shorts, as his good friend Colin Powell did, jogging and dancing, but they can see that on entertainment shows, not political news programs. They will understand the «quality, clarity, modesty and humility» which, as Karamanlis said, will be the keynote of political life with ND in power.