OPINION

Fuzzy ideology needs definition

After months of navigating the maze of his party apparatus, New Democracy’s president Antonis Samaras has returned to the issue of conservative values, condemning the ideological disarmament of the right in order to draw voters from as wide a section of the middle ground as possible. The reopening of the debate could be a positive development but only if the issue is not exhausted in proclamations but is spelled out in detail so that the party’s fundamental principles are translated into specific action on a practical political level. If he does not put together a team to develop a clear ideological framework for his party, Samaras’s recent speech will end up being little more than an outline of his ideas regarding so-called social liberalism. Those within ND who disagree with the positions outlined by Samaras and bemoan the departure from the middle ground are ignoring the fact that a party does not win votes because it reaches out to a broader electorate but by virtue of the strength of its ideals and by how discernible they are from other parties. Moreover, in times of crisis like the present, a clear ideological identity is imperative for a political party because the solution to problems lies in political strategy rather than in technocratic approaches, as many like to argue. Technical approaches without a political background lead to tensions that are difficult to bring under control and more importantly to the alienation of society from the political system. From this point of view, it comes as little surprise that the ruling PASOK party appears torn on questions of policy and the only reason why this has not thrown the party into crisis is because it is currently in power. This also explains the breakup of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the departure of four MPs from its parliamentary team. In New Democracy, Samaras’s reluctance to combine the traditional liberal current with the conservative majority resulted in the ouster of Dora Bakoyannis, who may very well proceed to form a liberal party, something that would not necessarily be a negative development. Ideological clarity between parties is very likely more necessary during this crucial period than anything else; voters will then follow accordingly.