Greece?s political stage has been enriched with the appearance of two new parties, formed by politicians struck from PASOK and New Democracy. The mocking tone taken by officials from both parties in response to this development comes as little surprise. Similar attempts in the past have been short-lived and the two-party system didn?t even break out a sweat.
But that was in the the past. Today, after the complete submission of the country to the scrutiny of the troika, ND and PASOK have little if anything to differentiate themselves from one another, given the commitments they both made when signing the terms of Greece?s second bailout agreement.
This means that the elections cannot possibly provide them with an opportunity to blow off steam, as has been the case over the past few decades when PASOK and ND alternated in the seat of power. The danger that has emerged from ND leader Antonis Samaras?s irregular shift in policy over the past two years has been a marked increase in the influence of the left. The creation of two new political entities consisting of former ND and PASOK members has to some extent tempered this danger. This is because the disappointment and rage felt by the vast majority of the public as a result of the measures that have led so many to destitution can now be channeled into the two new parties, which, at least, do not challenge Greece?s place in the European Union. What both parties purport is that the handling of the crisis was unacceptable, first and foremost by the government of George Papandreou, and that Samaras?s change of stance was incomprehensible even though it was merely due to the fact he caved into pressure.
The appearance of the two parties founded by Panos Kammenos and the team comprising Louka Katseli and Haris Kastanidis provides the opportunity for people to express their disappointment without the danger of Greece becoming ungovernable. Thanks to the electoral law that allows the first party past the post an additional 50 MPs, we may very well see a coalition government between ND and PASOK if they manage to garner 45 percent or even a bit less of the vote.
If they do not secure this percentage, then clearly ND and PASOK no longer have a raison d?etre. In this case, it would be necessary for Dora Bakoyannis to step in, who is, after all, a true liberal politician, not of the ?extreme? form presented by PASOK to Greece?s creditors and embraced by Samaras a few weeks ago.