Sui­ci­dal moves

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY COSTAS IORDANIDIS

In a coun­try of com­plete in­er­tia where vir­tual re­al­ity reigns supreme – rang­ing from Greece ex­it­ing the cri­sis to the coun­try’s ab­so­lute de­struc­tion – the ar­bi­trary dis­sem­i­na­tion of ru­mors re­gard­ing an im­mi­nent meet­ing be­tween the leader of New Democ­racy, Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras, and op­po­si­tion SYRIZA chief Alexis Tsipras took on a “real pos­si­bil­ity” di­men­sion. The whole thing had a storm in a teacup ef­fect, which was the point of the ex­er­cise from the very be­gin­ning. Nev­er­the­less, the drama did not un­fold in vain. The im­pres­sion dis­sem­i­nated by SYRIZA that Tsipras was “open” to meet with Sa­ma­ras was hardly sur­pris­ing – what pos­si­ble harm could a dis­cus­sion be­tween two lead­ers who do not lis­ten do after all. Nev­er­the­less, the ex­clu­sion of Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Evan­ge­los Venizelos was meant as a move to place the PA­SOK chief out­side the po­lit­i­cal process. It’s a SYRIZA po­si­tion – per­haps the party’s first – which is in sync with the coun­try’s cur­rent po­lit­i­cal re­al­ity. PA­SOK to­day has taken over the spot pre­vi­ously held by the Demo­cratic Cen­ter Union un­der Ioan­nis Zigdis back in the 1970s. Politi­cians can be res­ur­rected, but that is not the case with po­lit­i­cal par­ties. PA­SOK is com­ing to an end be­cause the majority of its vot­ers turned to SYRIZA, while oth­ers turned to other par­ties. Over at New Democ­racy, how­ever, the prob­lem is quite dif­fer­ent. Fol­low­ing the painful de­fec­tion of tra­di­tional right-wing vot­ers, a fact which was cer­ti­fied in the May and June 2012 elec­tions, Sa­ma­ras was obliged to turn to another voter cat­e­gory. The rea­son for do­ing so was not ide­o­log­i­cal, for he be­lieves he em­bod­ies the right wing of Greek pol­i­tics (which by the way is not the case). He did this so as not to crush Venizelos, his ju­nior coali­tion part­ner. In the end Sa­ma­ras was con­sumed by his ef­forts to repa­tri­ate right-wing vot­ers, which de­spite claims made by the left are not “fas­cists,” but tra­di­tional as well as angry and law­ful fol­low­ers of the Greek right. He al­lowed Panayi­o­tis Baltakos to de­velop con­tacts with Golden Dawn and la­beled for­mer LAOS deputies who had been rein­cor­po­rated into ND’s ranks as sup­pos­edly gen­uine ex­po­nents of the cen­ter right, de­spite the fact they had been the harsh­est crit­ics of ND ad­min­is­tra­tions un­der Costas Kara­man­lis. Noth­ing came of it, of course, be­cause Sa­ma­ras’s tac­tic was de­fen­sive and, as a re­sult, de­featist. But the strat­egy did give a cer­tain po­lit­i­cal weight to To Po­tami, an am­a­teur­ish for­ma­tion which is ral­ly­ing – in a re­laxed man­ner, it has to be said – vot­ers fa­vor­ing Greece’s “Euro­pean ori­en­ta­tion” (what­ever that means), peo­ple Sa­ma­ras should have fought for. In a nutshell, the cri­sis led the par­ties which came to power after the demise of the dic­ta­tor­ship into dis­rup­tion and over the last two years we have been ob­serv­ing their mys­ti­fy­ing sui­ci­dal moves.

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