OPINION

Suicidal moves

In a country of complete inertia where virtual reality reigns supreme – ranging from Greece exiting the crisis to the country’s absolute destruction – the arbitrary dissemination of rumors regarding an imminent meeting between the leader of New Democracy, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, and opposition SYRIZA chief Alexis Tsipras took on a “real possibility” dimension.

The whole thing had a storm in a teacup effect, which was the point of the exercise from the very beginning. Nevertheless, the drama did not unfold in vain. The impression disseminated by SYRIZA that Tsipras was “open” to meet with Samaras was hardly surprising – what possible harm could a discussion between two leaders who do not listen do after all.

Nevertheless, the exclusion of Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos was meant as a move to place the PASOK chief outside the political process. It’s a SYRIZA position – perhaps the party’s first – which is in sync with the country’s current political reality.

PASOK today has taken over the spot previously held by the Democratic Center Union under Ioannis Zigdis back in the 1970s. Politicians can be resurrected, but that is not the case with political parties. PASOK is coming to an end because the majority of its voters turned to SYRIZA, while others turned to other parties. Over at New Democracy, however, the problem is quite different. Following the painful defection of traditional right-wing voters, a fact which was certified in the May and June 2012 elections, Samaras was obliged to turn to another voter category. The reason for doing so was not ideological, for he believes he embodies the right wing of Greek politics (which by the way is not the case). He did this so as not to crush Venizelos, his junior coalition partner.

In the end Samaras was consumed by his efforts to repatriate right-wing voters, which despite claims made by the left are not “fascists,” but traditional as well as angry and lawful followers of the Greek right. He allowed Panayiotis Baltakos to develop contacts with Golden Dawn and labeled former LAOS deputies who had been reincorporated into ND’s ranks as supposedly genuine exponents of the center right, despite the fact they had been the harshest critics of ND administrations under Costas Karamanlis.

Nothing came of it, of course, because Samaras’s tactic was defensive and, as a result, defeatist. But the strategy did give a certain political weight to To Potami, an amateurish formation which is rallying – in a relaxed manner, it has to be said – voters favoring Greece’s “European orientation” (whatever that means), people Samaras should have fought for. In a nutshell, the crisis led the parties which came to power after the demise of the dictatorship into disruption and over the last two years we have been observing their mystifying suicidal moves.