A new political landscape

The conflict between the new and old PASOK, which will be clearly reflected in the result of local elections, especially in the Attica prefecture, could foreshadow radical changes in Greece’s partisan political landscape, which has outlived its ability to represent the different groups in our society. Yiannis Dimaras, an independent candidate for governor of Attica, cuts across all political segments, upsetting the traditional balance of power. The old battle between the center-right and the center-left has lost its ideological underpinnings and is being replaced by the candidates’ stance on the memorandum. Terms such as liberal and conservative are becoming less relevant. It has become clear that the reformists of Costas Simitis, the modernizers of George Papandreou and the liberals of Dora Bakoyannis have more in common than the champions of statism, of vested interests and of union positions that can be found in all parties across the spectrum. History will decide the relevance of Costas Karamanlis in all this, who, despite his responsibility for Greece’s fiscal derailment, said before the elections last year that the economy is in a dire state and pledged to freeze salaries. After his defeat, he also said he would back any campaign for reform taken by his successor. The battle between PASOK’s two wings largely reflects a tug of war between the two faces of Greece. On the one side are Papandreou and Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou, who over the past few months have received the backing of foreign investors, EU institutions and international organizations; on the other are the critics of the memorandum, currently embodied by Dimaras, who has attracted support from the left and the New Democracy anti-memorandum crowd. Papandreou’s best answer to the ersatz pro-or-anti-memorandum dilemma would be to stick to his original position that these are the most important local elections of the past decades and that they should be treated as such. In doing so, he should back Yiannis Sgouros for Attica governor, as he is an experienced politician who has knowledge of the area’s problems, and question Dimaras’s ability to meet the requirements of this demanding office. Instead, he chose to present voters with a dilemma involving snap general elections that could affect Greece’s effort to pull itself out of the economic hole in which it has dug itself.

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