OPINION

Two birds with one stone

LAOS chief Giorgos Karatzaferis’s proposal in favor of presidential elections in the spring is quite clearly a trap, one set after the ground was suitably cleared by the media. And he took this step even though he knew that the new leader of the conservatives, Antonis Samaras, had already sided with his predecessor in support of President Karolos Papoulias’s re-election. This, however, did not stop Karatzaferis from turning a mere idea into a concrete proposal. Samaras’s election will exert pressure on LAOS and this is what prompted Karatzaferis to support Dora Bakoyannis’s candidacy for the ND leadership. This is also why he set the rather obvious trap of pushing for spring elections, which would allow him to kill two birds with one stone: First, to score a goal against the new ND leader from the first minute, and second, to put the re-election of Papoulias in doubt as he is opposed to LAOS’s platform on national issues. Samaras, of course, did not fall into the trap. Siding with LAOS would have been a fatal mistake, firstly because it would have cost him the ND leadership, secondly because it would have confirmed rumors that he leans too far to the right and thirdly because a change in leadership was necessary – though not sufficient in itself – to regroup New Democracy and enable it to regain the support it quite clearly lost in October’s parliamentary elections. It will take time for ND to rebound, and the party will also have to prove that it is more than a power-hungry mob, that it has an ideology, moral values, a clear political strategy and reliable officials. Samaras was not elected on the strength of the usual horse-trading, but because he expressed the desire of the party’s grass roots for a moral, ideological and political renaissance. He may, of course, still become prime minister one day if he chooses to follow the beaten track, though it is certain that if he does, he won’t make a strong party leader nor an effective leader of the country, which is what it most needs.