Shredded from within

Never before has the announcement of snap elections created such a stir in the heart of the party that called them. Never has the emotional impact been so intense and the reactions of leading members so open and accusatory. It is now time for New Democracy (ND) to get its act together, however, because the image it is portraying is not one of a party that can lead a country. The biggest problem faced by Costas Karamanlis’s administration since March 2004 when he was first elected prime minister has not been the opposition or, more specifically, PASOK. It wasn’t even the practical problems faced by the country, but the lack of unity among his party’s top echelon and their undermining of a number of colleagues who were gradually also pushed out of government. Whatever the reasons may have been behind these unconscionable acts, however, some semblance of order needs to be imposed on this pre-election chaos, for which neither the media nor the opposition can be blamed. The ND cadres causing the stir need to stop fighting among themselves and attacking other parties. It is common knowledge that ND’s unfavorable image has had a negative impact on traditional conservative voters, while it is also obvious that the pre-election campaign should not be so much about attracting undecided voters from the middle ground, because they are already leaning steadily toward PASOK. These are the ad hoc voters who cast their ballots for any party leading the opinion polls. ND’s battle lies in winning back those who are turning to the ultra-conservative LAOS party and Giorgos Karatzaferis, voters who represent a large range of the social spectrum and are turning their backs on ND in protest at the party’s appearance and performance. This is the battle being fought by all ND candidates in their constituencies, but it is obviously not being fought strongly enough because the message that will draw these people back into the ND fold must come from party headquarters too.