The opposition’s campaign choices

The opposition’s campaign choices

Ιn the runup to this weekend’s ballot, all the parties face with choices. Whether these are right or wrong will be judged by the election result. That said, here are a few thoughts on a few critical decisions made by main opposition New Democracy ahead of Sunday’s vote.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ decision to spend his vacation last summer on a tycoon’s yacht is a deeply political issue, not a personal one. There are no moral issues – as long no irregular transactions were involved. However, given the fact the leftist leader has made elite-bashing a centerpiece of his campaign, his unannounced holiday was controversial on more than a symbolic level.

The argument that you have to be poor to be left-wing does not hold water. Still, the photos of Tsipras lounging on a yacht – and initial efforts to deny the allegation – naturally struck a nerve with the opposition, but most importantly with many SYRIZA officials and undecided voters. Hence, it is totally justified and the correct thing to do to highlight the ethical aspect of the issue, but without over-the-top rhetoric.

The same cannot be said about the ad hominem attacks on the prime minister and the allegations about his father’s supposed ties with the junta. Sons should not be held accountable for the actions of their fathers. If the attacks were the product of political strategy and not an isolated mistake, then the party misread poll findings. ND was ahead in rallying its fighting forces and by upping the ante it only managed to galvanize its opponent.

Finally, there was ND’s response to Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis’ attack on Stelios Kymbouropoulos, the wheelchair-bound New Democracy MEP candidate. There are two things that can be said about this. Polakis certainly made a mistake and ND’s reaction was perfectly justified. However, ND’s decision to submit a censure motion against the minister, which Tsipras countered with a confidence vote of his own, again enabled the incumbent leftists to mobilize their forces.

Meanwhile, the evident security deficit we have been witnessing lately is not merely a concern for the elite; it is an issue for society at large, and for this reason it should top the ND agenda. It is more important than the tax cuts on which the opposition understandably places much emphasis. But even the government has introduced some tax relief, albeit with delay and in some cases reluctance. Naturally, lowering the tax rate is a key policy goal for any free market liberal party, but security is a universal concern.

The share of those on the fringes of the political spectrum who think otherwise is too small to affect the election outcome. Methodically elevating security into the key issue – always in a cautious manner that would prevent cynical opponents and pundits from distorting the message – would allow ND to lure support from across the political spectrum.

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