OPINION

Uncontrolled factors

New Democracy enjoys a steady lead in all opinion polls. That does not guarantee them any victory at the next elections but definitely gives the conservatives a strong advantage over their Socialist rivals. History shows that in the final stretch, the ruling party uses its power as a government to reinforce its position. That particularly applies to the Costas Karamanlis administration, which has avoided any controversial moves that could result in political costs. The conservatives are favored to win the next vote, provided that no unexpected events upset the current balance of power. ND came close to that last week. The severe beating of Avgoustinos Dimitriou, a 24-year-old Cypriot student, in Thessaloniki could have cost him his life. That would be more than a dead person. It would be the killing of young man by policemen, caught on videotape. Such a powerful image, played over and over again on television would have a catalytical effect. It would awaken traumatic memories that would in turn revive past lines of division and talk of the «right-wing police state.» It would wreck ND’s middle-ground policy. It would be a vindication of PASOK’s allegations and ND would be pushed against the ropes, not only by leftist parties but also by the majority of the media and critics. Of course, such a climate would have a profound impact on the factors that shape the party preferences of center and left-of-center voters. ND must examine what it is that pushed those otherwise experienced police officers to be so inhuman as well as so blatantly unprofessional. Conservative officials need a serious dose of self-examination. Or what they were this time lucky to escape may well soon strike them in the face.