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Deputies’ disaffiliation has ideologically homogenized PASOK and New Democracy

24 February 2012 / 19:02:13  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

The division of Greek parties between supporting and rejecting the memorandum of economic aid that started in 2010 is slowly but surely becoming a major topic of controversy between them. In recent months, the two major parties - New Democracy and PASOK -  have undergone changes, the most tangible being the "blue" camp transition to the camp of the "fans" of the memorandum. After the vote on the agreement for the new loan to the country, Antonis Samaras and George Papandreou disaffiliated 42 members from the parliamentary groups, because they did not follow the party line and their vote was negative. At the same time, there is a growing wave of discontent to the memorandum and the austerity measures following it, which enhances the edges of the political spectrum.

Today, a new political formation called Independent Greeks has emerged. Its founder is the former deputy and minister in the government of New Democracy Panos Kamenos. "Good afternoon. Our movement has been born. Let Mary help us and protect us. We are many. We are independent. We are Greeks," was the message that appeared in Panos Kamenos' profiles on the social networks Facebook and Twitter. Pressing the "I like" button underneath is growing in proportion to the humorous and not so well-intentioned comments about another patriotic movement. An article was uploaded on, in which he was comically presented as the former leader of the terrorist group Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden.

According to sociologists and political scientists, these processes have clarified the main differences between the parties: pro- or anti-European orientation. We have contacted the political science professor Athanasios Diamandopoulos to analyze for GRReporter the changes in the Greek political system.

"We are witnessing a reorganization of the parties in Greece, which is taking place on three levels: First, the two-party system is becoming a multi-party system and even what we sometimes call a "broken" multi-party system. Second, from a centripetal system such as the two-party system, we are moving to a centrifugal multiparty system. I.e. the fight for voters is taking place in the extremes or in the eccesses, which are growing, as happens in times of crisis. Third, the political environment is internally revised. To date, two trends existed side by side in the two traditional governmental parties: the pro-European or pro-Western, not in the sense of the position supporting the memorandum, but as a central political and cultural choice, the roots of which lie back in the years shortly before the fall of the Byzantine Empire. It starts from the proverbial phrase of the Megas Doux Lucas Notaras "I would rather see a Turkish turban than the Latin mire," through the Greek Renaissance of Adamantios Korais to the division between the supporters of Eleftherios Venizelos and the pro-monarchic minded circles and it defines a basic division of the Greek society. Until today, it existed within the two major parties. After the recent changes in their positions, which have resulted in a new New Democracy, which voted on the second memorandum and the repaired PASOK of Evangelos Venizelos and Andreas Loverdos, which has radically changed its focus, it seems that the "pro-European" trend is distributed between the two traditional governmental parties. Almost all other parties are against Europe and the memorandum and are at the two extremes of the political spectrum. I do not mean the smaller parties like the Democratic Alliance of Dora Bakogiannis and Drasi of Stefanos Manos."
According to the political scientist, the new distribution could have a rational or a disastrous impact "If it leads to a joint government between the two traditional parties, which will be guided by their pure pro-European movements. It would be disastrous if the Weimar Republic were repeated in Greece. This is the German state from the period between the two World Wars, where the extreme left and right forces got a higher election result and a majority in parliament and, as a result, the state was not governed by anyone, especially after the severe crisis in 1929. If the same happens here, as the forces of the extreme left and the extreme right are not united forces of government but the forces of denial, Greece will remain without a government.

But even in the first scenario, assuming that the "repentent" New Democracy and the "reborn" PASOK collect 50% of the votes and propose a government, it will be of questionable effectiveness, because the strength of the two-party system until today was the fact that it was a natural absorber of discontent. When people were disappointed by one party, they voted for the other one. If they are now obliged to govern together, the discontent will be absorbed by the anti-systematic forces of extremes. Therefore, even if the disastrous scenario is avoided, it is still possible in the medium term. Unless we assume that at some point, and in any case earlier than expected by economic analysts, economic growth starts worldwide and in Greece. But there is another difficulty: Even if the economy begins to revive, this will not be immediately transferred to Greece in the form of investments or an increase in tourism. This is because the complete conquest of the legal state and the official recognition that it is "better to break our marbles than heads" embolden the forces of extremes: the extreme left that uses violence and the extreme right, which I fear, will take action very soon. All this is scaring and deterring foreign investors and tourists."

Tags: PoliticsPartiesIdeologiesPro-European orientationPanos KamenosMikis TheodorakisExtremes
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