Emancipated voters

As long as the political arena is stripped of substantial political divisions, passions and fanaticism, the weight is bound to fall on strategic or personal errors which previously only played a minor role in election outcomes. This was the most significant message of the local elections which recorded the considerate emancipation of voters from parties and ideological prejudice. The above conclusion was underscored by the impressive showing by Dora Bakoyianni who won the Athens municipality with 60 percent of the vote. Bakoyianni never rid herself of her party tag, as outgoing Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos had done, while her sweeping victory was achieved in the runoff vote which has traditionally seen the highest degree of party solidarity. The paradoxical results in Athens, Piraeus and the other big municipalities in Attica compared to the Socialist triumph in the Athens-Piraeus super-prefecture confirm the enhanced influence of tactical errors or of flaws in the selection of candidates. Yiannis Tzannetakos, for example, received the lowest percentage ever enjoyed by New Democracy in recent years in the first round. Despite improvement in the second round, his nomination resulted in public approval of government policy in the person of Fofi Yennimata – moreover, in Greece’s largest super-prefecture. ND should examine why Bakoyianni, a senior conservative official, was more successful in penetrating PASOK than was Tzannetakos, a centrist figure; why Thessaloniki’s new prefect, Panayiotis Psomiadis, emerged unscathed, if not assisted, by the harsh political and personal attacks leveled by PASOK, while Tzannetakos was eliminated by similar hits below the belt. This was certainly a matter of characters and tactics. The days when the party lines and their candidates were easily endorsed by the party base is history. Parties have to listen to the emancipated voters.