Athens, December 24, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
With the announcement of the official results of the New Democracy intra-party electoral process, the countdown began the election of the new leader of the party on January 10, 2016.
Evangelos Meimarakis with 39.8% and Kyriakos Mitsotakis with 28.5% continue in the leadership election battle, leaving behind Apostolos Tzitzicostas with 20% and Adonis Georgiadis with 11% who both lost in the first round.
The result of the first round essentially determines the substance and the battle between the two candidates for the party leadership. Evangelos Meimarakis, a historic member of the party with service in several ministries is a former President of the Parliament and former Interim Leaders of New Democracy and Kyriacos Mitsotakis, a member of the new generation of New Democracy politicians but with a strong name as he is the son of former Prime Minister and New Democracy honorary president Constantinos Mitsotakis and brother of Dora Bakoyannis will battle to the end for the final victory.
The lost years of the Right in Greece and the inability to find its lost identity in recent years have naturally led to the formation of strong blocs of ideological identity and intra-party confrontation. This in a chaotic and not creative pluralism, which led to the electoral defeat of the triple elections of 2015.
The faint and weak government of Costas Karamanlis and the inability to handle coalition governance by Samaras by him and his aides led to the victory of Syriza and Alexis Tsipras. But all this is more or less known. The agony of the traditional voters of New Democracy is about the next day and what lies ahead.
The conflict between the two contenders is not merely personal, ideological or political. It is the conflict between two sides, that of Karamanlis and that of Mitsotakis. As hard as Kyriacos Mitsotakis tried to distance himself from his father and sister in the eyes of the average New Democracy voter, this relationship has not been overcome and will certainly create problems in the second round.
What will largely determine the election result on 10 January is who will turn up to vote and how many.
Although the party celebrated the participation of 400.000 citizens in the first round, in reality a little over 25% of New Democracy voters in the September 2015 election took part. The number seems small if one considers the damage suffered by the government and the rally the main opposition party should have caused.
The second round will obviously have less participation than the first, because the mobilization of four candidates is now reduced to two. It will be difficult for all those who turned up to vote for Apostolos Tzitzicostas and Adonis Georgiadis to opt for somebody else. So, at least 120.000 will have second thoughts about turning up to vote again. Not because they don’t belong to New Democracy but because their vote was personal, not ideological.
Knowing the philosophy of New Democracy voters, in the battle between Karamanlis supporters and Mitsotakis backers the former enjoy a considerable lead over the latter. The uncle of the former Prime Minister, Constantinos Karamanlis, who was the founder of New Democracy remains the figure that even now affects the average voter. For a large part of New Democracy supporters Constantinos Mitsotakis remains a foreign body to the party and a shadow on the Right-wing conservatives since he derives from the Center.
Also, traditional New Democracy voters are old on average which favors Evangelos Meimarakis while the younger voters who are much less evidently support Kyriacos Mitsotakis.
However, the key to victory, besides who and how many will vote in the second round, is access to the party mechanics that will determine the final winner. Here Evangelos Meimarakis primarily has access as a former leader of New Democracy and also because he is backed by most MPs and likelier to mobilize a greater number of voters.
Certainly the election can hide surprises, however, under current circumstances it seems that Evangelos Meimarakis is the favorite to prevail over his opponent on January 10.