Manos suspends party, remains in Parliament

Two women approach Stefanos Manos, smiling warmly, and each of them grasps him by the hand. Mr. Manos, you are the voice of reason; you tell it like it is, says one. It’s good that there is a voice that speaks the language of truth, says the other. He rebuts them both politely: You love me but you don’t vote for me. But we vote for the party we belong to, answers one. So what makes me the voice of reason? asks Manos. What is the voice of your party? The Liberal Party, with its bull insignia, was his attempt to get disentangled from the two-party system. When he was expelled from his party, New Democracy, Manos did not cease being active in politics. Now he has suspended the operation of his party but will remain in Parliament. In an interview with Kathimerini, before announcing his decision yesterday, what Manos has to say is genuine and interesting. What is happening to the Liberals? The difficulties we are going through are well-known. We’ll see what we’re going to do. You’ll find out soon. Is the objective still independent participation in the elections? The objective remains. But objectives aren’t easily attained. Let’s talk about current affairs. Where do you think this strange war in which the planet has become involved will lead? I don’t see it finishing soon. A high target has been set, to wipe out terrorism, and nobody can tell me that the fall of the regime in Afghanistan, which will happen soon, will bring about the desired outcome. The terrorists have already moved to another state and there is panic in the United States. This affects the economy and Greece must take that seriously into consideration. Our economy is based 25 percent on tourism. Can you imagine what will happen if tourism drops by 15 percent? Prime Minister Costas Simitis says that the crisis does not affect us. That sounds like wishful thinking. The reality is different. Everything that happens affects the economy. Instead of expressing wishes, we should take steps, and be concerned. National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou seems optimistic, and so does the prime minister. What about you? How can I be optimistic? The economy is based on money obtained from the European Union, and the increase in the GDP comes from the increase in public investment. Is that healthy? Of course not. On July 23, Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said that competitiveness is increasing. Yet Greece fell from being 34 to 36 on the list of countries with investment increases. How did that happen? What will happen if the money from the EU is stopped? How do you see the City of Athens? Would you be interested in standing for election as mayor? That kind of thing doesn’t happen. Of course I’m interested in Athens – it’s my electorate – but public opinion is completely polarized. You saw what happened to Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos. I must admit I didn’t expect such a development. But polarization and the two-party system are stronger than we thought. No, there’s no question of my standing. Besides, I’m in combative politics. Either that or nothing. PASOK and ND How do you see PASOK? I attended their congress. I don’t think anything substantial will come out of it. You don’t solve the world’s problems by making them internal party problems. Simitis got a blank check, but what’s he going to do with it? I think the Cabinet reshuffle may make matters worse. What is your opinion of New Democracy? I think it’s absent. After Simitis’s speech in Thessaloniki, ND didn’t show that it was the official opposition. Since then it has been absent. It doesn’t even support its policy or its past. You are speaking from a distance. Don’t you cooperate with ND? Don’t you participate? Weren’t you elected with them? We worked with them as a party for the elections. Since then there has been no cooperation. What is your opinion of Simitis? He has disappointed me. I thought he was different. His stand on the attack on the judiciary was unacceptable. Not that the judiciary are saints, but ministers should set an example by their respect. Simitis supported them. He is timorous. He doesn’t dare take measures to deal with populism. ‘Don’t touch’

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