Speculation and reality

Political commentators appear nervous about Dora Bakoyannis’s next move after she lost the race for New Democracy chief to Antonis Samaras. Some forecast that Bakoyannis will head ND’s in-party opposition while others speculate that she will leave the conservative party and, perhaps, move on to establish one of her own. Of course, no one claims to have actually spoken to Bakoyannis while her father and former ND leader, Constantine Mitsotakis, has refused to make any comments on the issue. Bakoyannis is smart enough to know that there is no room for a new liberal party – or at least a party big enough to challenge Greece’s two-party system. It is this fact, after all, that has prompted other liberal politicians to join one of the two mainstream political parties, PASOK and New Democracy. In some cases, the liberal camp has had a decisive effect on policymaking as in the administrations of Mitsotakis and PASOK’s Costas Simitis. Those who see in Bakoyannis the leader of ND’s alternative pole fail to consider that any attempt to voice in-party opposition at the grassroots level would make little sense given that Samaras was only recently elected with more than 50 percent of the vote. Furthermore, Samaras’s direct election by party members, old and new, gives the party president more power than he would have if he had been elected by the parliamentary group or the party congress. Those who claim that in-party opposition will find its expression in the parliamentary group probably underestimate the strength of deputies’ instinct for self-preservation. ND’s presidential vote sent all deputies a strong message and Bakoyannis’s supporters are in a phase of adjustment to the new balance of power. Bakoyannis must also adapt to the new reality before she can start contributing to the party’s recovery. Contrary to what commentators may think, this is mandated by political common sense.

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