Political catalyst

The conservatives’ intention to introduce a 42 percent threshold for the election of local government officials in the first round has triggered a great deal of political controversy. Interestingly, some senior Socialist cadres and political pundits have distanced themselves from the official party line. The change, they say, will encourage alliances with other left-of-center parties. In theory, that is. The new law makes it necessary for parties to cooperate before the elections – which means they must make open and sincere deals unlike the typically opportunistic second-round alliances. Synaspismos Left Coalition and the Communist Party are naturally ruling out any cooperation with PASOK until they see clear signs of some ideological shift. The PASOK opposition is split in two camps. Some believe their party must remain loyal to its socialist credentials. Others, including the current leadership, are convinced that restoring the socialist identity is impossible – and would be harmful, even if it could be done. If nothing else, the proposed change has sparked a debate inside PASOK on the need to clarify its ideological identity. The debate could be painful but at the same time essential if the party is to clarify the political landscape. The new measures would not leave the two smaller left-wing parties unaffected. The change, which will further strengthen the two-party system, will trim these parties’ hopes of electing local representatives. Also, the Communists may be tempted to lift their embargo on Synaspismos for the sake of all-left coalitions in municipalities where they could win 42 percent of the vote. That would be welcome. Greece is the only European country to have an orthodox communist party whose main goal is the elimination of all other leftist parties.

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