Greek Center-Left Initiative split ahead of key event

Only a few days ahead of key gathering in Athens, members of Greece’s newly-formed Center-Left Initiative appeared divided Friday on whether the movement should turn into a fully-fledged party.

The grouping – also dubbed the “58 initiative” after the political manifesto signed in October by an equal number of well known intellectuals, academics and individuals – was established with the aim of occupying Greece’s political center in light of growing polarization and socialist PASOK’s unprecedented decline. Some analysts have compared the movement to Italy’s Olive Tree alliance formed under the leadership of Romano Prodi in 1995.

Speaking to Real radio on Friday, former socialist MP Anna Diamantopoulou said that PASOK and Democratic Left (DIMAR) should disband and make way for a new party.

Diamantopoulou stressed the need for “a new political pole… that will not be seen as a government supplement neither on the right nor on the left.”

“Nothing new will come into being simply by putting old, worn-out structures together,” she said.

A Marc poll for the Ependitis newspaper on Sunday put PASOK on 6.4 percent and Democratic Left on 5.8 percent.

Diamantopoulou’s position was soon challenged by former PASOK minister Nikos Bistis, widely seen as one of the key figures behind the Initiative.

Speaking to the same radio station, Bistis said that there was no intention to transform the movement into a political party. He said that cooperation with PASOK or DIMAR should not be ruled out, adding that the Initiative was set up to bring together center-left parties and politicians ahead of next year’s European and local elections along the lines of Italy’s Olive Tree.

“We are moving fast, but not hastily,” Bistis said.

A gathering of the Center-Left Initiative has been scheduled for Monday in Athens.

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