OPINION

Party conscience

Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis is by all accounts a restless person. At his previous post as conservative party secretary, he would often criticize ministers in the New Democracy party. He recently seems to be nostalgic about his past habits. Meimarakis selected a very odd time – the eve of local elections – to speak of «party conscience,» sparking the rage of Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias. However, attempts to capture the «middle ground» have reduced party conscience to no more than an expression of loyalty to the party leadership of the time. Party conscience can these days only be found among voters. And it is often the key to electoral victory. It is often said that in local elections people do not vote on exclusive political criteria. Maybe. But as of 1986, a year after ND’s second consecutive defeat to PASOK, its then-president Constantine Mitsotakis gave elections in the three main municipalities – Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki – an explicitly political character. ND managed to win all three of them. The tradition continues. In Athens, Nikitas Kaklamanis, one of ND’s most popular and competent politicians, ran against former MP and Socialist party secretary Costas Skandalidis. The race resembled a clear political duel between the two mainstream factions and Meimarakis would have been right to interpret it in such terms. But talk of party conscience was misplaced. It constitutes an ongoing conversation with a particular school of thought and action. It’s about a clear ideological identity that is often disguised for tactical reasons. Meimarakis’s mistimed point should be re-examined in depth now that the elections are over.