NEWS

Still feuding on the Left before polls

Greece’s main left-wing parties – the Communists and the Synaspismos coalition – appear to be heading into the March 7 elections without managing to overcome differences that have kept them divided since a short-lived union that ended in 1991. The 85-year-old Communist Party (the KKE) is the oldest one contesting these elections, as ruling PASOK and the main opposition party, New Democracy, were founded in 1974 at the end of a seven-year military dictatorship. Synaspismos is the result of a union of several left-wing forces, which included the Communists, ahead of general elections in 1989. Their post-election alliance with New Democracy resulted in Communists (who had lost a civil war in 1946-49) joining a government under a conservative prime minister. But in the spring of 1991 the Communist Party pulled out, leaving Synaspismos as an umbrella for smaller parties. The Communist Party has been getting about 5 percent in opinion polls recently. But Synaspismos is in danger of not clearing the 3-percent threshold for representation in Parliament. Yesterday, composer Mikis Theodorakis, a lifelong leftist, called for a united front. «I would wish that the leadership of the (left-wing) parties could agree with each other to fight the elections together,» he said in a statement. «I am truly sorry for those who have not yet realized that in the coming elections the question is not only how many representatives the Left will have in Parliament but even its very values are at risk.» Synaspismos leader Nikos Constantopoulos, whose party has formed a «Coalition of the Radical Left» with even smaller parties, leaped at this. «In the polarization between New Democracy and PASOK, the Left must respond as the faction of memories and visions, of struggles and contribution, ‘for the good of democracy, for civilization and the interests of workers…’ as Mikis Theodorakis said… That is what the great majority of Greek society wants,» Constantopoulos said. Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga, however, mocked Synaspismos’s appeal yesterday, questioning whether its leaders were sincere when they opposed an alliance with the Communists or now.