A judicial probe into allegations that Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) head Giorgos Karatzaferis is the owner of two offshore companies currently under investigation in connection to the acquisition of defense supplies during the tenure of Akis Tsochatzopoulos as defense minister will be concluded in due course and if found guilty he will have to face the consequences. But there is also a political dimension to this case.
What is true is that for a number of years there had been a certain level of dissatisfaction running through the center-right’s conservative wing with regard to New Democracy’s policies in the period following the end of the country’s military dictatorship. It became evident for the first time in 1977 through the National Alignment, which garnered 6.83 percent of the vote. However, the leaders of that movement were established parliamentary politicians.
In contrast, the emergence of LAOS in September 2000 as a party whose ambition was to represent the so-called “popular right” was not the result of ideological differences, but due to the fact that Karatzaferis had been ousted by New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis for making vulgar comments.
In reality, the creation of LAOS turned out to be of service to socialist PASOK, which took advantage of Karatzaferis’s presence to weaken New Democracy – where Karamanlis had been elected as leader three years before. The stratagy was nothing new. At the same time, French President Francois Mitterrand had indirectly supported the development of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front as a means of undermining the country’s right-wing parties.
Irrespective of LAOS’s arrival and whether or not the party was supported by PASOK, Karatzaferis and his party’s deputies heavily criticized Karamanlis’s governments, claiming the title of the right’s “true representatives” until the party was eradicated from Parliament in the last election.
Nevertheless, certain LAOS MPs and members were incorporated into New Democracy following a decision by the party’s current president, Antonis Samaras. There is no point in commenting on that decision or the fact that today former LAOS deputies are some of the leading exponents of government policy.
Efforts were made, however, for Karatzaferis to rejoin ND’s ranks in the name of restarting the right. Prior to this there had been efforts for a rapprochement with Golden Dawn. One can understand the struggle of a party leader whose voters are abandoning him, but the retrieval of traditional supporters cannot be carried out through the transfer of members of fringe parties with delirious and ghastly behavior. New Democracy’s supporters will return to the party if persuaded by its leader, not by the center-right’s former rivals.