The battle of succession

By convening an extraordinary congress of New Democracy, Costas Karamanlis signaled the start of the battle of succession. All the clamor, however, about extending the vote to all ND members and friends rather than to just the delegates, may change the playing field. Dimitris Avramopoulos is the most vociferous champion of the proposal because he has no hope of winning otherwise. The favorites, Antonis Samaras and Dora Bakoyannis, are supporting the plan because they don’t want to appear daunted by it. The makeup of the electoral body will play a key role, but the determining factor in the battle will be whether or not the Karamanlis family camp rallies or not, because Bakoyannis has been preparing for this battle for years. Her (family) support base is more united and better organized. Other than the power it has within ND, it also has strong media connections and alliances with other powerful groups that hold sway in ND. These factors may give the former foreign minister an edge, but they do not ensure victory, because she continues to carry the disadvantage of only minority support in the party mechanism and at its base. Karamanlis family supporters have been deeply disappointed by their outgoing leader, though at the same time they do not want to see ND back in the hands of a Mitsotakis family member. But if they fail to stick together and act with determination, they will make the battle much easier for Bakoyannis, as an organized minority will prevail over a scattered majority. The only way for them to avoid this is to rally behind a strong contender. So far, it appears that Samaras is ahead of the other candidates fishing in this particular pond. But he is at a disadvantage in the party apparatus, where Bakoyannis is stronger. If Samaras wants to gain the edge, he needs to shift the debate to ideas and policy, to give a clear idea of what his vision for the party is, and, by doing so, force the other contenders to play on the same field.