OPINION

Damaging succession talk

All the talk about succession in the New Democracy party strikes a discordant note when one considers the country’s real problems. I don’t know who, for example, had the brilliant idea to invite imagined successors to speak at the Karamanlis Institute in the runup to the European parliamentary elections. It was obvious that this event was little more than a party parade. It was also a great opportunity to spark the succession debate in the media. Did no one stop to think that in a pre-election period, it is not smart to stir up issues of succession and balance of power within the party? ND represents a large center-right bloc, one that the country needs for its governance. Unfortunately, however, no one has taken the time to address how this is to translate into a vibrant political body that has discourse with society, expresses a reformist stance, integrates disparate elements of society and can produce ideas and proposals. This challenge is not about individual personalities nor is it the business of just three or four families and a posse of party cadres. The truth is a that the wave of populism that swept through Greece in the aftermath of the junta coupled with a young PASOK established the hegemony of the center-left. The center-right held little allure for that generation of Greeks. In 1997, the party took the path of least resistance: It climbed on the coattails of a charismatic, clever and untainted man with excellent political survival instincts. Costas Karamanlis gave ND a major boost and may likely still have game left in him. ND will be hard pressed to find a better campaigner. But the question the party needs to answer is why it wasn’t prepared to govern, why so many of its officials are guilty of insolence, why it couldn’t take the country further. Anyone who wants to ascend the ranks of New Democracy must answer these questions and show us tangible goals. Otherwise, they will be doing more harm than good to an already wounded party that is at great risk of returning to its bad old ways.