The end of Karamanlism in New Democracy?

The end of Karamanlism in New Democracy?

Athens, January 11, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

The electoral process for the election of the new president of the New Democracy, on Sunday, highlighted Kyriakos Mitsotakis as the winner, with a significant difference from rival Evangelos Meimarakis.

The victory of Kyriakos Mitsotakis turns the page in the historic course of the Greek conservative New Democracy party. The rise in the leadership of a neoliberal politician who believes in the full liberalisation of the market comes in contrasts with the conservatism and regulatory role of the state that inspired the founder of the party, Konstantinos Karamanlis.

The great victory of Kyriakos Mitsotakis – which for many analysts represents an overturn – is a heavy defeat for the pro-Karamanlis blocks, all of which had stood united behind the candidacy of Vangelis Meimarakis. The nomination of Kyriakos Mitsotsotaki, as seen from the result, had taken the characteristics of a movement in Greek society and signaled the renewal of ND.

But what contributed to the upturn of the -10% that was separating the two candidates and the difference created by Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the second round?

A significant part in the upturn of the perceived Meimarakis victory played the fact that were made public the talks between Tsipras and Karamanlis during the election campaign for the second round of the intraparty elections.

The leaks that the former Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis supported Evangelos Meimarakis made the voters of ND think that there is a behind the scenes agreement to support the SYRIZA coalition by the pro-Karamanlis block, pushed them to react and obviously vote for Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had spoken clearly of tough opposition to Alexis Tsipras.

The second important element in the victory of Kyriakos Mitsotakis was big turnout of New Democracy voters in the second round as well. As shown by the figures to date, unofficially abstinence was at 20%. This means that there was mobilization both from the side of Apostolos Tzitzikostax and the side of Adonis Georgiadis to support Kyriakos Mitsotakis. It is no coincidence that in the prefecture of Serres and Thessaloniki, bastions of Karamanlism, he beat his opponent with a clear difference.

The third element that possibly helped to the electoral overturn was that the winner of the elections was the only one of all the candidates who gave a clear mark on the policy he intends to follow and that he is ready to rule both in words and deeds.

The fourth element was the clear desire of the Europeans for his election, as his proposals and ministerial term, has provided proof that he sides with the EU and its desires.

Finally, strategically, the new president of the New Democracy followed a mild election campaign, without making public the support for the party’s MPs and staff, who by working methodically mobilised voters at the right moment to give the big victory in the elections to Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

The way is now open and Kyriakos Mitsotakis has to change a lot in an aging party such as New Democracy. Its enlargement towards the “center” and his strong opposition to the populism of an incompetent government, as he said in his winning speech, are the prime objectives.