Revenge-seekers and moderates at New Democracy

Revenge-seekers and moderates at New Democracy

The New Democracy (ND) party president, Kyriacos Mitsotakis, may appear consensual as Prime Minister in-waiting who can “unite all Greeks”, however, fury against SYRIZA is not easily restrained within the party.

Aristotle Aivaliotis’ statement that the losers of the election should be treated like defeated prisoners under the Geneva Convention is supported by many within ND. It is indicative that Mr. Mitsotakis was not too critical in his disapproval of the ND politician, pointing out that he disagrees with this kind of humor, while avoiding any disciplinary action. Although he was advised to remove Mr. Aivaliotis from the ND ticket, it was judged that this would cause dissatisfaction among the party faithful and chiefly amongst those campaigning ahead of the 7 July election.

Regardless of Mr. Aivaliotis’s statement though, there is a question to be answered regarding New Democracy which is being discussed at leadership level. The first to raise the question is former PM Antonis Samaras who is destined to be the country’s European Commissioner. A few days ago, following the publication of the Angelis report, Antonis Samaras stated that he will seek the judicial condemnation of those responsible for the “Novartis plot”, as he insists on calling the case. It is clear that when he speaks of a condemnation and his complete vindication after being wrongly “defamed by his political opponents”, he doesn’t just mean “Rasputin”, as his friendly MPs call the Alternate Justice Minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos. Nor does he stop at Pavlos Polakis who he considers a “laughable character”, but he aims at the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

On his part, the last thing Kyriacos Mitsotakis wants is to allow the revenge-seeking of the former PM and his (not few) supporters within ND to become part of the pre-election debate. That would cause the Prime Ministerial profile he has been building since before the European election – in order to keep voters close to SYRIZA away from polling stations – to collapse.

But it is not clear what Mr. Mitsotakis would like to occur after the election. It is indicative that in his first interview after the European vote, he spoke to ANT1 TV about the possible establishment of an investigative committee to look into the first six months of SYRIZA’s governance in 2015 – a move that is not costly, since even if there was any wrongdoing it would be within the statute of limitations and won’t be examined by a Special Court. Nevertheless, he refrained from referring to the “plot” of Novartis.

There are supporters of both views within ND. Besides Antonis Samaras, the first view is supported by Adonis Georgiadis and Makis Voridis, who believe that the left-wing governance parenthesis should close along with any chance of the Left returning to power. In this context, proving that the Novartis case was fabricated would deal a fatal blow. However, there is also the view of the pro-Karamanlis wing of the party, shared by some of Mitsotakis’s advisors who may not be part of the party but are destined for senior positions. They believe that taking revenge would undermine Mitsotakis’ future course. Instead, they advise moderation and a practical turn to the center, which of course excludes legal action against political opponents. They add that the tactic of moderation would benefit Greece and Mitsotakis himself, if he plans to remain in power for a long time./ibna