The po­lit­i­cal cen­ter

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY AN­GE­LOS STANGOS

The week­end con­fer­ence of the Demo­cratic Align­ment nat­u­rally in­spired hopes and ex­pec­ta­tions among Greek vot­ers who like to as­so­ciate them­selves with the cen­ter of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum. This re­ac­tion was, firstly, be­cause the com­ing­to­gether of dif­fer­ent politi­cians who share a sim­i­lar po­lit­i­cal back­ground ap­peared to sug­gest that there is a cer­tain will for unity. Se­condly, it was be­cause they are op­ti­mistic about the prospects of the po­lit­i­cal cen­ter and they do not want to see it be­ing hi­jacked ei­ther by SYRIZA, the left-wing rul­ing party of Alexis Tsipras, or by the con­ser­va­tive op­posi- tion New Democ­racy party. Thirdly, it’s be­cause they deem that this rather broad po­lit­i­cal space con­tains (or it could pro­duce, so to speak) per­son­al­i­ties with the ca­pac­ity to en­rich Greece’s po­lit­i­cal class, which has been tar­nished by years of fi­nan­cial cri­sis. It is as yet too early to say how far the Demo­cratic Align­ment pro­ject will go. If the past is any guide, the ven­ture will find it­self ex­posed to risk from pri­vate am­bi­tions, from er­ro­neous de­ci­sions and from out­side power games. More­over, no one can pre­dict how vot­ers will re­act in a po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment of deep po­lar- iza­tion (con­di­tions which will cer­tainly pre­vail in the next gen­eral elec­tion, when­ever that takes place). A great deal will de­pend on whether the dif­fer­ent fac­tions that make up the al­liance will man­age to come up with a leader who knows how to ap­peal to the masses. There is no ques­tion that the pres­ence of a strong cen­trist party (at least when speak­ing about Euro­pean pol­i­tics) is not just nec­es­sary, but also po­lit­i­cally ben­e­fi­cial. Greece is not an ex­cep­tion. Quite the op­po­site in fact: It is a trou­bled coun­try with a long list of par­tic­u­lar­i­ties, where ex­trem­ist par­ties have shown that they can pen­e­trate the do­mes­tic elec­torate on the back of empty prom­ises, false be­liefs and a good dose of tough-guy pos­tur­ing. Cen­trist and cen­ter-left par­ties are usu­ally good at ab­sorb­ing shocks and pre­serv­ing so­cial peace. They also tend to co­op­er­ate when it is nec­es­sary to make sure that the coun­try re­mains an­chored to Europe. In light of the above, it is in the in­ter­est of the coun­try that the Demo­cratic Align­ment pro­ject comes to fruition. Most likely its suc­cess will de­pend on whether the main play­ers are able to stay to­gether and at the same time find a way to con­nect with the masses.

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