According to recent opinion polls, New Democracy is slightly ahead of leftist SYRIZA. This revival of the conservative party is without doubt thanks to its leader Vangelis Meimarakis, for his spontaneity, the quickness and simplicity of his retorts and his occasionally unorthodox behavior.
There are those who despair at the new chief because they find his manner inappropriate for a party of the middle classes. They are mistaken because good manners do not necessarily mean that someone can get the job done, whether it be in politics or finance. In fact, many a layabout has excellent manners. The fact is that the Greek middle classes today do not have time for such niceties; they are more concerned with survival than party loyalties.
Meimarakis is reaching out to the grassroots voters of the popular right, and rightly so. After all, we are not living a century ago when Dimitrios Gounaris, an intellectual, founded the Popular Party and left his mark on the Greek right. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and a lot of party leaders with it.
Meimarakis’s pre-election strategy makes sense and it also appears to be working. But the real problem of the center right, and of New Democracy’s new president, stems from something quite different and, in some ways, something that has always been there. In other words, we could say that it is a matter of fate for the right to pay the price for its rivals’ devastating mistakes.
A long time ago, a crazy decision by Eleftherios Venizelos to impose the terms of the Treaty of Sevres on the collapsing Ottoman Empire, without any support from the allied powers, led to the Asia Minor disaster. The people who came up with that destructive policy not only never explained themselves but sent Gounaris and his associates to the firing squad.
Many decades later, in 1980, Constantine Karamanlis managed to get Greece into the European Economic Community but the country’s European course was then managed, poorly, by a succession of PASOK governments until 2004, with a brief, three-year hiatus when Constantine Mitsotakis was elected prime minister.
In 2004 Greece went bankrupt and it was a PASOK government, under George Papandreou, that signed the first memorandum, the reasoning of which determined the policy pursued by New Democracy under the premiership of Antonis Samaras.
Now if Meimarakis is elected prime minister on Sunday, he will have to implement the monstrous agreement with the creditors signed by leftist Alexis Tsipras. Since the restoration of democracy after the fall of the 1967-74 dictatorship, the rules of the game have been shaped by the demonic mind of the left. Hopefully we won’t reach the point where woe is the victor.