Kostas Karamanlis’ departure

Kostas Karamanlis’ departure

Former premier Kostas Karamanlis announced he will not run again as a lawmaker with the cοnservatives (in his words, “it’s time to complete my parliamentary career”), at a time when he felt that his move would cause the least damage to ruling New Democracy, of which he was the longest-serving leader – its president for 12 years and prime minister for five and a half.

People in the know say he had often considered taking that step in the recent past, but there was the widespread feeling that, due to his continuing strong appeal within the party, his departure would complicate the situation if it was interpreted as an effort to distance himself from the current leadership of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Hence Karamanlis’ phone call with Mitsotakis, the statement in which he declares his support for the current administration and his dedication to its “history, ideology, principles and values,” as well as the thought of his participation in the ruling party’s main campaign gathering in Thessaloniki.

From the first moment that the wiretapping scandal emerged, the former prime minister did not hide his personal annoyance. He made it public with a speech in Anogeia, Crete, last summer, where he asked for a full investigation into the case and full transparency, echoing the demands of the politicians, journalists and others who were victims of surveillance.

In any case, as we head toward the elections, it will not be easy to fill the void, especially in northern Greece, where almost 14 years after Karamanlis left the party leadership, he is still a point of reference and his popularity remains high.

As far as his future is concerned, the possibility of his ascension to the presidency of the republic is always floating around – but if he really wanted that, he could have had it in 2015, with the support of both the left and the center-right.

Time heals all wounds, conditions and realities change, so it cannot be ruled out that he might change his mind on that.

However, something that still hasn’t happened – and it does not concern a political move – is a comprehensive presentation from his point of view of the course of the country during his tenure and also in the period that followed.

Former prime ministers have, I dare say, a moral obligation to intervene effectively, bravely, but also with sobriety, on the major issues – past, present and future – facing the country and those that concern society.

They must share their experience and knowledge with the people they led, and whose destiny they shaped, to some extent. Even if one disagrees with them, their interventions have their own special value and cannot but be part of the public debate. 

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