The next big step?

The media are always waiting to tear us to pieces at our first wrong move,» a New Democracy official complained after last week’s municipal and regional elections. It is true that criticism had been somewhat excessive, especially in the case of Yiannis Tzannetakos. It is equally true that Costas Laliotis’s propaganda machine fully exploited an advantage handed over on a plate by the opposition party. However, this doesn’t change the fact that ND made tactical errors during the recent campaign – errors that diminished the party’s victory and restricted the ability of Costas Karamanlis to challenge Costas Simitis’s hold on power. ND deputy Giorgos Souflias had the political nerve to accept that he was responsible for some of his party’s decisions. In any case – as Athens’s new mayor, Dora Bakoyianni, noted – it is neither a case of sacking anyone, nor of apportioning any blame. Of primary importance is a change of faces – with the possible exception of a few ostensibly clear-headed advisers whose contributions have been consistently detrimental – so that the executive council comprises party officials who will ensure that such mistakes are avoided in the future. Indeed, ND can’t afford to make any similar errors in the 18 months until the next parliamentary elections. Already, its mishandling of Tzannetakos’s nomination has set their supporters thinking… So it will take more than visions and promises for ND to convince voters that it is ready for the big step of governing the country.