It ought to be a pillar of stability and continuity, a political force that appeals to centrists and thinking citizens who are fed up with the extremes and with barren political rivalries. A pro-European political player whose participation in government signals moderation and ensures consensus and transparency.
The Movement for Change (KINAL) party on Greece’s political stage today is both annoying and useful to the two large parties to its right and left. It potentially draws voters who would have otherwise gravitated toward its main ideological rival, but it also puts off those who are disappointed in its rival.
We can take it for granted that the next general election, which will be carried out via the new system of simple proportionality, without the bonus seats for the main party, will not result in a single-party government.
Given the usual wear and tear every government suffers, a majority seems unlikely, even in the very possible event of a second election that is expected to be called a few weeks later. In this case, KINAL may be the only coalition partner available, both for ruling New Democracy – the most likely winner under the current circumstances – and main opposition SYRIZA.
KINAL is unlikely to ever see the kind of numbers its predecessor, PASOK, enjoyed, and will continue to be the country’s third party in size. It could become stronger, it could increase its percentage with a more convincing attitude and proposals, but it will not become one of the two main parties.
Nevertheless, it can play a very important and even decisive role from third place – much in the manner of Germany’s Free Democratic Party, which despite its small size has been in one governing coalition or another for 45 years since the end of World War II. It shared power for 32 years with the Christian Democrats – most recently under Helmut Kohl (1982-98) and Angela Merkel (2009-13), while it co-governed for 13 years with the Social Democrats under Willy Brandt (1969-74) and Helmut Schmidt (1974-82). It is a relatively small party that has played an inordinately big role, leaving its mark on Germany’s political evolution.
This is the kind of role the four contenders for KINAL’s leadership, as well as its lawmakers and party officials, should be aiming for. They need to understand that if, instead of going to war with one another, they sought to come together to create a stable centrist party, they could evolve into a key piece of the puzzle for governing the country, not for a short while, but for the long haul.
KINAL’s political raison d’etre is as a strong and independent pole that can ensure the formation of a government and, by extension, smooth and stable governance.
Rivalries will certainly intensify in the next three months, as we get closer to the party conference, but the different camps would be better served by looking at the bigger picture rather than descending into division and petty squabbling.
Movement for Change could evolve into a valuable governing partner and an important regulator in the exercise of power. But this requires maturity and unity – without bias or prejudice toward other people or potential coalition partners – as well as vision.