OPINION

Evert, a politician of the right

Miltiadis Evert was a politician of the right, endowed with genuine spontaneity that did not always help his career and a fighting spirit that occasionally went beyond the preferences and the limits of tolerance of the ?middle ground? and the financial establishment. He was a politician with great promise but not so much luck, because when he made it to the final stretch he lost the premiership to Costas Simitis and then the leadership of the New Democracy party.

Evert?s first major political victory was his election in 1986 to the post of Athens mayor, a development which, coupled with the nominations of Sotiris Kouvelas in Thessaloniki and Andreas Andrianopoulos in Piraeus, elevated the role of local administration. The fact that Athens residents voted conservatives into City Hall for 24 consecutive years is partly due to Evert and the policies he introduced.

When, following New Democracy?s electoral defeat on November 3, 1993, Evert took over the party, he tried to reverse the trend of ?liberalism? imposed by Constantinos Mitsotakis on the conservatives. The concept of a ?people?s right? began to take root in a party that was created to express the concerns of conservative citizens and was originally called the People?s Party.

Evert was criticized by rivals within his own party as well as by the PASOK government because he supported the striking farmers in Karditsa, northern Greece, though it was this that broke the Socialists? stronghold in the agricultural provinces.

He was not among the elite who studied at eminent universities in the West, from which they emerged — especially those of PASOK — with their most vulgar expressions of provincialism intact — a mixture of arrogance and omniscience in combination with complete ignorance about Greek reality.

Evert was thought to be the obvious successor to Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, but at that critical point in the country?s political history Costas Simitis emerged as PASOK?s candidate. All of a sudden, the financial establishment saw what it was looking for in Simitis — though now it has to face the devastating consequences of eight years of mismanagement, corruption and scandals carried out in the name of modernization.

Evert assumed the leadership of New Democracy at a time of widespread political and economic delusion, when the concept of a ?people?s right? was considered an anachronism unworthy of contemplation. Yet today, the radicalization of the right is the prevalent trend in the United States and in Europe.