Personalities back new center-left alliance

As political tensions – both between co-ruling New Democracy and leftist opposition SYRIZA, and within the governing coalition – a group of 58 personalities have signed a declaration favoring the creation of a new center-left grouping in Greek politics.

Those who signed the declaration embracing the initiative, which is modelled on Italy’s Olive Tree alliance, include professors Nikos Alivizatos and George Pagoulatos, former ministers Nikos Christodoulakis (photo) and Stavros Benos, entrepreneur Aristos Doxiadis, musician Nikos Portokaloglou and author Petros Markaris.

The declaration calls for the formation of a new vehicle for the center-left but does not demand the dismantling of PASOK, the second party in the coalition, or Democratic Left, formerly the junior partner in the coalition; it calls on the two parties to join forces with the new movement.

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos hailed the initiative on Monday, calling for a “responsible center-left, not one beholden to party interests or personal opportunism.” Venizelos, who is also deputy PM, said he was open to dialogue and even to possible changes in his own role.

The development came amid increasingly strained ties between ND and PASOK, with the latest spat relating to the staging of a military parade on October 28, marking

Greece’s entry into WWII. The participation of tanks and military aircraft in the parade had been suspended in 2010 to save money but is to resume this year following a decision by conservative Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos. PASOK slammed the U-turn. The parade will reportedly be sponsored by refiner Motor Oil Hellas, owned by entrepreneur Vardis Vardinoyiannis.

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