Self-ap­pointed rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the right

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY COSTAS IORDANIDIS

A ju­di­cial probe into al­le­ga­tions that Popular Ortho­dox Rally (LAOS) head Gior­gos Karatzaferis is the owner of two off­shore com­pa­nies cur­rently un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion in con­nec­tion to the ac­qui­si­tion of de­fense sup­plies dur­ing the ten­ure of Akis Tsochat­zopou­los as de­fense min­is­ter will be con­cluded in due course and if found guilty he will have to face the con­se­quences. But there is also a po­lit­i­cal di­men­sion to this case. What is true is that for a num­ber of years there had been a cer­tain level of dis­sat­is­fac­tion run­ning through the cen­ter-right’s con­ser­va­tive wing with re­gard to New Democ­racy’s poli­cies in the pe­riod fol­low­ing the end of the coun­try’s mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship. It be­came ev­i­dent for the first time in 1977 through the Na­tional Align­ment, which gar­nered 6.83 per­cent of the vote. How­ever, the lead­ers of that move­ment were es­tab­lished par­lia­men­tary politi­cians. In con­trast, the emer­gence of LAOS in Septem­ber 2000 as a party whose am­bi­tion was to rep­re­sent the so-called “popular right” was not the re­sult of ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences, but due to the fact that Karatzaferis had been ousted by New Democ­racy leader Costas Kara­man­lis for mak­ing vulgar com­ments. In re­al­ity, the cre­ation of LAOS turned out to be of ser­vice to so­cial­ist PA­SOK, which took ad­van­tage of Karatzaferis’s pres­ence to weaken New Democ­racy – where Kara­man­lis had been elected as leader three years be­fore. The stratagy was noth­ing new. At the same time, French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Mit­ter­rand had in­di­rectly sup­ported the de­vel­op­ment of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Na­tional Front as a means of un­der­min­ing the coun­try’s rightwing par­ties. Ir­re­spec­tive of LAOS’s ar­rival and whether or not the party was sup­ported by PA­SOK, Karatzaferis and his party’s deputies heav­ily crit­i­cized Kara­man­lis’s gov­ern­ments, claim­ing the ti­tle of the right’s “true rep­re­sen­ta­tives” un­til the party was erad­i­cated from Par­lia­ment in the last elec­tion. Nev­er­the­less, cer­tain LAOS MPs and mem­bers were in­cor­po­rated into New Democ­racy fol­low­ing a decision by the party’s cur­rent pres­i­dent, Anto- nis Sa­ma­ras. There is no point in com­ment­ing on that decision or the fact that to­day for­mer LAOS deputies are some of the lead­ing ex­po­nents of gov­ern­ment pol­icy. Ef­forts were made, how­ever, for Karatzaferis to re­join ND’s ranks in the name of restart­ing the right. Prior to this there had been ef­forts for a rap­proche­ment with Golden Dawn. One can un­der­stand the strug­gle of a party leader whose vot­ers are abandoning him, but the re­trieval of tra­di­tional sup­port­ers can­not be car­ried out through the trans­fer of mem­bers of fringe par­ties with deliri­ous and ghastly be­hav­ior. New Democ­racy’s sup­port­ers will re­turn to the party if per­suaded by its leader, not by the cen­ter-right’s for­mer ri­vals.

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