So far, New Democracy chief Evangelos Meimarakis has lived up to his duties sufficiently during a particularly challenging time. His biggest asset is his straightforwardness in speech, his ability to communicate with the average citizen and the way in which he rallies the party’s officials and members. Clearly, the door is open to all, as far as Meimarakis is concerned.
Meimarakis also carries huge responsibility – something which he accepted as soon as he took over the helm of the party following Antonis Samaras’s resignation in July – as he is called to express public opinion’s pro-European core and all those who voted “yes” in July’s referendum.
But he needs to be careful. Communication skills and good chemistry with voters comprise a big plus but only so long as one moves within the framework of self-discipline. The middle-class political world cannot and should not fall again into the trap of lowering the level of public dialogue. In the last few years we have experienced a previously unseen decay in terms of the country’s political life. We saw colorful, incompetent figures elected to Parliament, while the verbal altercations on TV discussions, as well as in the House, had no precedent.
What we have recently witnessed is that when a middle-class political party tries to assume a more populist profile, it ends up alienating its voters and sending them to the true populists.
Greeks now understand what the challenge is, and Meimarakis has already succeeded in achieving something which just a short while ago seemed almost impossible: making a large portion of New Democracy voters who had turned their backs on the party listen to its message again. At the same time, he has made the average New Democracy voter feel confident again.
However, there is very little time left. Meimarakis must lay his cards on the table and explain the party’s positions with regard to growth, education and security. He could even go as far as to provide examples regarding which people he could work with in a New Democracy-led administration, or perhaps which members of the former government he could appoint to certain positions.
What is needed is a narrative, a persuasive plan and a serious reason to persuade voters to trust him. A first target, which was New Democracy rallying and attracting lost supporters, appears to be bearing fruit. The following days will be crucial in terms of those who are still undecided.