LAOS popularity stirs fears in ND

In view of forthcoming municipal elections and recent opinion polls, which many in the ruling New Democracy party are viewing in a rather pessimistic light, speculation is growing over the political presence of right-wing LAOS leader Giorgos Karatzaferis, who has gained in popularity and is expected to run for mayor of Thessaloniki in October. In particular, there is concern that the support being drawn by LAOS is coming from disenchanted ND supporters and that the gains to be amassed by the right-wing party in municipal polls will provoke corresponding losses within ND. Political speculation can be useful in warding off complacency, as long as it is executed with level-headedness, well-documented arguments and clear goals. If, on the other hand, it exaggerates the potential risks, it could end up provoking impulsive initiatives which can produce a negative outcome. Evidently, this is what certain ND cadres and conservative pundits have been doing recently – attributing the rise in popularity of LAOS to the ruling party’s shift to the center ground which, according to them, has displeased many party’s supporters. In other words, they attribute the leak of votes toward LAOS to a belated ideological response of these erstwhile ND supporters; after all, ND had heralded a shift toward the center ground before the March 2004 elections and had actually constituted the party’s most significant strategic move. Another explanation for the shift of votes toward LAOS is the intense disappointment among some ND voters that the current government did not carry out a wave of mass hirings of its «own people» into the public sector.