It’s such an attractive trap we fall into again and again. We believe the praise of our peers – “Go get ’em!” “You tell ’em!” – and believe the rest of the world believes it too. Well maybe not the entire world, but certainly a critical mass of the world we care about.
A typical example of this attitude is the recently expelled New Democracy MP Konstantinos Bogdanos. He thought himself untouchable, a party lifer. And a key player of course. He was certain that he’d never be taken to task or brought to book. It started the moment Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced his candidacy as MP in 2019. Which he had rejected shortly before. Which was announced by Adonis Georgiadis behind the party leader’s back.
The “yellow card” flashed at Bogdanos a few weeks ago when he crossed the line again and offered all sorts of contradictory excuses, didn’t upset him much. It certainly didn’t daunt him when he said that the communists are a greater threat to Greece than the Turks during an anti-communist rant in Parliament. He’d done his homework. He’d memorized every scrap of rhetoric used to invoke bitter civil war divisions. And with what poise he delivered them too. The hours spent rehearsing were evident. I won’t swear to it, but he had likely tried on his ministerial suit in front of the mirror. Perhaps even a weightier uniform. The top one.
Bogdanos is your garden-variety far-right populist of the lesser orders. He’s a little less impressive than the mediocrities that have always occupied that space. His oratorial delivery is that of a moderately educated army grunt or a mid-level educator from a different epoch, but it was enough to dazzle the more ignorant among us. Those who participate in this world only via television and the tiny idols they construct believed him to be an intellectual and a formidable orator.
The problem is that the New Democracy leadership also thought it was onto something good. And it invested in him. It used him as a bridge to the far-right, just as it is doing with the trio of ministers formerly of the nationalist Popular Orthodox Rally.
But those crossing this bridge push those who define themselves as belonging to the center-right away from the bridge on the other side – and far away, as public opinion polls are showing. This weighed most heavily in the decision to expel Bogdanos. That and the fear that Nikos Dendias will get all the centrist credit.