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The Right in a search for themselves

08 November 2009 / 12:11:05  GRReporter
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Maria Spassova

The current troubles New Democracy is experiencing seem to turn the party into even more interesting and attractive, at least for journalists. The press center of the party’s extraordinary congress, taking place today and tomorrow in the “Peace and Friendship” stadium (the symbolic relation to the congress’ goals is probably a coincidence), is stuffed. The reporters listen to the political speeches carefully, writing, smoking and participating in lively discussions.  

The rights are suffering a crisis all around the world. We witnessed last year’s events in the US. Regarding Europe- Sarkozy is no Jacque Chirac and Angela Merkel is no Helmut Koll, Berlusconi has always been Berlusconi, and David Cameron’s gastronomic club may as well play a trick on him. Not because the British are not in favor of gastronomy- it’s just that great amounts of food normally go with great amounts of alcohol. I don’t even want to make a comparison with Margaret Thatcher. And I don’t even want to mention the Bulgarian rights- governing or opposing. The most respected leader currently seems to be the Eastern-European Vaclav Klaus who, however, found himself in the eye-shot of European bureaucrats.

This makes New Democracy’s collapse at the 4 October’s elections, the greatest they have ever suffered, seem as a part of the global tendency, rather than surprise anyone. If we are to create the collective image of the successful right leader today, than he has to be married to a beauty such as Karla Bruni, possess the extravagancy of David Cameron, own Berlusconi’s media empire, be ready to do anything for a political survival as Angela Merkel, and possess the wise conservatism of Vaclav Klaus.

So what do we see in New Democracy? Wise conservatism goes the most with Dora Bakoyanni. If we are searching for a political survivor, the Greek phoenix is only one- Andonis Samaras. No argument there, the extravagant one is Panaiotis Psomiadis.

Many people see listening to political speeches as a time-wasting and boring activity. Well, it’s not like that. A political speech can tell a lot about the speaker. If you take a closer look at Bakoyanni’s speech, you would find out a lot of egocentrism in it. During most of her speech she talks about herself- her childhood in the Bakoyanni family, her youth, the marriage with Pavlos Bakoyannis and the trauma caused by his death; about her political carrier as a member of the parliament, mayor and a foreign minister. “I haven’t lost elections so far,” concluded Bakoyanni, but it’s never too late.

Let’s take a look now at Andonis Samaras’ speech. Quite confusing and unpredictable, as confusing and unpredictable is Samaras himself. He spoke of a “social liberalism” where an open market would exist within a social state, referred to Obama’s elections strategy (!) and said a few nice words about the middle class as a social foundation of New Democracy. He added a number of general statements such as “We can change Greece” and “We will make New Democracy better,” in order o finish with an appeal to the unanimity of the party after the leader-elections.

One can rarely hear applause coming from journalists in a press center, having seen everything and hardly ever expressing any emotions. Panaiotis Psomiadis’ speech, however, changed that. The journalists were applauding the mayor of Thessaloniki not because he said something good about them, but, on the contrary, because of the direct accusations he threw at them- calling their attitude towards New Democracy fascist and accusing them of “dragging Kostas Karamanlis’s name through the mud” for the five years he was Greece’s prime minister. What moved the journalists was that Psomiadis was the only one who spoke as a real person, with passion and emotion. He did not hesitate to state that Karamanlis was obliged to give him his vote, for the sake of every time he had stepped forward to take the blame for him during the hardest times for the former prime minister. Next, he addressed Karamanlis personally: “Kosta, I realize how much you’re hurting- for you children, for your party, for your homeland, but most of all you’re hurting because your mother had to see you defeated in the night of 4 October.” Panaiotis Psomiadis concluded his speech, calling both his opponents to join him at the stage so than can all shake their hands in the name of unanimity, which Bakoyanni and Samaras did with great discontent after the loud applause in the hall and the originating      mocking laughter.  

The elections for a new leader in New Democracy are going to take place exactly three weeks from today. Dora Bakoyanni is slightly ahead but Andonis Samaras can easily change that. “Do not underestimate me, as you did with Georgeos Papandreou,” was Psomiadis’ prophecy. No one can say today who is going to take the lead in the Greek right. For the first time New Democracy is facing the challenge of choosing its leader among all members and not only delegates at the party congress. It is all in the hands of those that decide to cast their votes on November 29.

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