Leadership election unites center-left; over 200,000 voters participate

Leadership election unites center-left; over 200,000 voters participate

Over 200,000 people voted on Sunday in the leadership election of Greece’s new center-left political entity that will transform into a new party.

With 60 percent of ballots counted, the leader of socialist PASOK party, Fofi Gennimata, took 43.8 percent of the vote, with PASOK MEP, Nikos Androulakis coming second with 26.2 percent.

In third place was Athens Mayor, Giorgos Kaminis (13 pecent) while the leader of centrist party, To Potami, Stavros Theodorakis was fourth with 8.3 percent. Former Energy Minister, Yannis Maniatis was in fifth place with just over 3 percent and former Interior Minister, Yannis Ragousis took 1.9 percent.

Gennimata and Androulakis are set to go head to head in a runoff vote on Sunday, 19 November. The winner of the election race will need to secure a 51 percent majority.

According to the committee overseeing the vote, headed by Nikos Alivizatos, citizens throughout the country voted in the election, along with voters from abroad. “Citizens’ participation was the best answer to those who mocked the effort,” Alivizatos said.

The mass participation in the vote is seen by analysts as a huge success that puts the new center-left entity in good stead for the next general election, expected in 2019. The aim of the new party after it has elected its leader will be to present a political alternative to the two largest parties, left-wing SYRIZA and conservative New Democracy.

Latest opinion polls have seen the parties participating in the effort to unite the center-left under a new entity, improve their ratings. Especially PASOK has appeared in third place in many surveys, edging closer to the two largest parties.

PASOK and To Potami have vowed not to dissolve their parties at the end of the leadership race, but rather remain under the umbrella of the new entity as participating members in a wider coalition of likeminded parties, including – among others – the Democratic Socialist Movement led by former PM George Papandreou.

Political analysts suggest that both New Democracy and SYRIZA will stand to lose voters to a united center-left party, as supporters of the once powerful PASOK that moved away from the party in recent years, may decide to return. Much will depend on the timing of the next election, the political balance within the new entity, the state of the ruling party at the time of the vote and the appeal of New Democracy leader Kyriacos Mitsotakis to voters at the center of the political spectrum.

Government sources were quick to point out that the high turnout in Sunday’s leadership vote doesn’t necessarily mead voters will opt for the new entity at the next general election. One of the key arguments put forth by the same sources is that the leadership candidates have not outlined detailed policies and the exact ideology of the new entity, nor should the unity of the new party be considered certain.IBNA