Fighting over domestic – not foreign – policy

Fighting over domestic – not foreign – policy

It’s a somewhat unusual yet positive development for the country: Despite the toxicity and the bitter clashes on almost every domestic policy issue one can think of, which will intensify as we get closer to the general elections in May, for the first time in many years there is broad consensus on the country’s geopolitical orientation.

All three major parties have a broadly common foreign policy focus which they have put into practice during their terms in power.

The 1977 declaration of late conservative statesman Konstantinos Karamanlis that “we belong to the West” was essentially adopted by both socialist PASOK and leftist SYRIZA as soon as they came to power and were forced to deal with the difficult reality.

In their early years, both parties on the center-left of the spectrum acted as representatives of a protest vote and wandered in different directions, but eventually when they got into a position of power weighed the facts and acted accordingly.

In contrast to the large differences observed in other campaign periods after the restoration of democracy, most notably perhaps in 1981, but also more recently, in 2012 and 2015, this time around all the protagonists – the three major parties that in one way or another will be in power, whether as a single party government or as a coalition – are moving along the same lines. That is not to say there are no minor differences, something not only expected but also welcome.

The only parties that are moving in another direction are, on the extreme left, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and, to a large extent, MeRA25, and, on the right, Greek Solution and, of course, National Party-Greeks, the new party fronted by the jailed Ilias Kasidiaris, who was once a leading figure in the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, if the formation succeeds in taking part in the elections and enters Parliament.

For Washington, Brussels and the major European capitals, the elections in Greece hold their own special interest, as is the case in many other countries, but there are no geopolitical “risks” and uncertainties attached to them.

It is obvious, and confirmed with each passing day as the parties present their policy plans, that a lot is at stake in next month’s election. However, unlike the past, this does not include the country’s geopolitical orientation.

Whatever the outcome at the ballot box, approximately 80% of the votes will go to political forces that in practice do not question Greece’s position and course within the European Union and NATO, its crucial military alliances with the US and France or the strategic cooperation with countries such as Israel and Egypt.

Foreign and security policy are developing into one of the constants of the Greek political system.

For a small country that does not have the luxury of experimentation and political upsets, this is extremely useful. It is valued positively by our allies, it facilitates the work of whichever government is in power, and it ultimately benefits the country.

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