Drasis party eyes center ground

Former minister Stefanos Manos presided over the launch of a new centrist party yesterday that aims to shake up the Greek political scene and possibly end the domination of the two big parties through coalition governments. Manos, who has served both PASOK and New Democracy, was one of 12 people that made up the board of the new party, which will be called Drasis (Action). Other high-profile members include Vassilis Kontoyiannopoulos, another former minister who has also represented PASOK and ND, businessman and winemaker Yiannis Boutaris, who has in the past run for mayor in Thessaloniki, political history professor Thanos Veremis and writer Nikos Dimou. Each of the 12 explained why they thought that the country was headed in the wrong direction and why it was time for something to be done about it. «Dead ends only disappear when the citizens make that choice,» said Kontoyiannopoulos. Some 200 other people have signed the party’s founding declaration, which was presented at the Benaki Museum yesterday. Manos said that the party’s aim is to stand in the European parliamentary elections, which are due to be held on June 7, but that it is not in a position to compete in a general election if it is held at the same time, or before then. Boutaris had earlier suggested that Drasis will have to garner at least 1.5 percent of the vote in June if anyone is to take notice of it. As well as serving both major parties, Manos, 69, has also helped set up two independent groups in the past, which did not attract great support. However, the diverse nature of the people founding the party as well as their political backgrounds was presented as a strength of Drasis, which its founders hope will help attract voters that do not feel duty-bound to vote for PASOK or ND. «We recognize the scale of the difficulties we face,» the 12 said in a statement. «We are taking a risk in the hope of being successful. We do not know if our appeal will be heard but we want to be able to look at our children tomorrow and say that at least we tried.»

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