OPINION

Samaras’s strength

Dora Bakoyannis’s refusal to toe the party line on the matter of an overhaul of local government, also known as the Kallikratis plan, sparked controversy in New Democracy. But few were surprised. Bakoyannis, a former mayor of Athens, has her own experience in local administration and her own views on the issue. On a broader political level, Bakoyannis’s comments on Kallikratis, as well as the migration issue, could signal an independent stand on certain issues. There is nothing wrong with that. After all, Bakoyannis has many differences in opinion to those of Antonis Samaras, the new ND leader who was picked after a long and grueling race that gave the (correct) impression that the two candidates were, sometimes, worlds apart. Samaras was not picked by the ND deputies or by the party congress, but by hundreds of thousands of citizens. This should protect him against independent voices as well as statements by conservative barons. ND is no stranger to dispute. In-party tension has often had devastating results over the past 30 years since Constantine Karamanlis left ND to become president of the Republic. On top of personal rivalries, which are, after all, common to all political parties, ND is made up of a large majority of conservative voters and a smaller, yet very active, group of liberals. Combining the two strands can be achieved through dialogue, provided that both sides are willing to engage, but this is not the case. History has shown that some degree of unity can be achieved through really drastic measures, such as ousting cadres from the party. It would be unacceptable if Samaras were to waste his political capital in struggling to restore the party equilibrium. Samaras was elected by a vast pool of citizens and these are the people he needs to address. They are his allies and the people he can depend on. Samaras will have to put up a fight across the country and in Parliament by sticking to a clear set of political ideas.