OPINION

The Movement for Change elections

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The internal party elections of the Movement for Change (KINAL) are taking place Sunday. Given the present political dynamics in the country, a smooth transition process, combined with the efficiency and appeal of the new leadership, could elevate the party into a defining element of Greece’s governance in a relatively short period of time.

The recent televised debate between five of the six leadership candidates had no clear winner. Maybe the only one who earned some points in the debate is 38-year-old Pavlos Christidis, who cemented himself as the representative of the new generation and reinforced his future prospects.

Everyone else had a respectable showing but nothing of particular note. Nobody excited, surprised or upset the status quo.

The current state of affairs according to expert estimates is that Sunday’s election will be a three-way race between former prime minister George Papandreou, former minister of labor, health and education Andreas Loverdos, and Member of the European Parliament Nikos Androulakis.

As to what comes after the election, the feeling is that Papandreou will aim toward a so-called “progressive government”. Despite criticizing SYRIZA, there is widespread belief that he will work with Alexis Tsipras and as part of this co-operation is most likely eyeing the role of deputy PM and foreign minister for himself.

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Loverdos seems to be ready to cooperate with New Democracy to ensure that the country avoids the instability that would stem from a protracted period without a government if ND fails to win a majority in the second elections.

At a first glance, a Loverdos win would be good for the government. However, the situation is not that simple. For example, it is not clear whether a successful leadership bid by Loverdos and his presence at the top of the KINAL could make it easier for disappointed ND voters to vote for his party, thus making the ruling party’s path to re-election that much harder.

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For his part, Androulakis is preaching a message of change and hovers, in a way, between the other two, insisting that he will not work with any other party and stating that the only solution is for KINAL to become the dominant center-left party in Greece.

This is something which is obviously desired by all his fellow candidates. The issue is whether KINAL will shoulder the burden, and potentially the political cost, of taking the country to a third election.

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In any case, a large number of voters participated in the internal elections, even if before the election there were many criticizing the seeming participation of supporters of other parties who mayseek to influence the result not with KINAL’s interests in mind, but those of their own party.

In any case, Sunday’s elections are extremely interesting and could, in one way or another, contribute to the reshuffling of the current political landscape.

The most optimistic supporters of the center-left who are hoping for a reversal of 2012 – when SYRIZA overtook PASOK as the main force on the left of the political spectrum – will probably be disappointed. However, the party could find itself bolstered by this internal democratic process.

Finally, the internal developments in Greece’s third largest political party are being keenly observed by Greece’s partners and allies, as well as competitors. All seem to view the Movement for Change as a pro-European, moderate party that could prove itself a positive element in any government it might be called to participate in.

In any case, for the above analysis to be of value, the stability and unity of the party must be ensured after the internal elections. Otherwise, the Movement for Change will find itself in trouble, possibly irreversible so, and the two party system will be further cemented.