OPINION

ND and the far right

If nothing else, the ruling Socialists deserve recognition for their extraordinary ability to create issues out of nothing. The recent allegations about New Democracy’s flirtation with the extreme right is a typical example. PASOK catapulted a non-issue onto center stage in order to stage a counterattack and offset ND’s attempt to turn the municipal and regional elections into a referendum against government policy. Hyperbole is typical of the days leading up to the ballot, but in this case, we may well be faced with something more than pre-election tactics. PASOK has for years flirted with the idea of attracting conservative supporters, in a move that would fuel extreme right-wing reaction. It is not hard to see the anticipated benefit. PASOK aims to create a rift and hence prevent ND from returning to power – most crucially, at a time when a conservative election victory is considered very likely, with pollsters giving ND a significant lead over PASOK. In Greece of the post-civil war period, the traditional anti-Communist, ultra-right section was either contained within the state mechanism or it maintained ties with the State while operating apart from official bodies. After the collapse of the dictatorship in 1974, the power of the extreme right shrank. Attempts in the post-1974 period to establish itself as an autonomous political movement failed. Some of its cadres found political shelter in ND and largely adapted to its ideological and political framework. This development actually helped strengthen Greece’s democracy and PASOK. Invoking this as grounds on which to attack the conservative opposition is an act of hypocrisy. In the present circumstances, the real problem is the new type of racist right-wing parties which have emerged strongly in many European states. In Greece, support for these kind of ultra-right ideas is marginal, and has nothing to do with ND. Giorgos Karadzaferis is clearly trying to make a political career by playing this card, but this is a completely different story. ND’s nomination of Yiannis Tzannetakos allowed the former ND deputy to extract a considerable percentage. The vast majority of those who will vote for him tomorrow are traditional right-wing supporters who wish to express their opposition to Tzannetakos’s candidacy. It is perfectly legitimate for ND to try to sway them back in the second round. The fact that it severed relations with Karadzaferis allows no room for misinterpretation.