A lingering vendetta

The majority of New Democracy supporters do not share former conservative leader Constantine Mitsotakis’s hostility toward his former foreign minister Antonis Samaras. In a recent ALCO survey, ND voters rated Samaras as the second most «useful» politician among the ex-conservative cadres who seek to return to the party fold. The respondents also said Samaras was the most supportive of the opposition in the last polls, thereby highlighting ND followers’ feelings for the politician. The explanation is simple. Samaras embarked on an open collision course with Mitsotakis during the latter’s three-year tenure as prime minister (1990-1993), he launched his own party, and effectively led to early elections as ND’s parliamentary representation was reduced from 152 seats to 150. Mitsotakis, at the time, condemned Samaras’s stance as a conspiracy that was mandated by vested interests. He apparently thought that under the pressure of such allegations, Samaras’s splinter party would collapse, and that ND would go on to repeat its 47 percent triumph in the 1990 elections, with Mitsotakis himself being politically vindicated, as a victim of conspiracy. However, things did not turn out this way, as PASOK won a landslide victory over ND with 47 percent while Samaras’s Political Spring got 5 percent, earning the party 10 MPs. We are not in a position to know whether Mitsotakis’s heavy charges against Samaras were legitimate. He would have to prove that. What is important, on the other hand, is that ND’s base saw their brawl as a political one and the public verdict, so to speak, was reflected in the 1993 poll results. Notably, referring to the FYROM name controversy, Mitsotakis famously said that «in 10 years it will no longer be an issue.» This makes one wonder why he remains so resentful of Samaras although more than 10 years have passed since their row.