Unexpected developments within the Greek liberal spectrum

Greek flagIt has been an interesting week for Greek liberals – not only with regard to the results of last weeks’ EU summit, but also where their domestic party constellations are concerned. Was the liberal party spectrum on May 20 still a highly fragmented one, consisting of three parties with around two percent each, this changed radically within only two days.

It started with Dora Bakoyannis, Chairwoman of the ELDR-member “Democratic Alliance” (2,55%), announcing that she will turn her back on the liberal family and head back to the conservative “Nea Dimokratia”, of which she was expelled in March 2010. On the very next day, the chairman of the newly founded liberal grassroots movement “Recreate Greece!” (2,15%), Thanos Tzimeros, announced an electoral alliance with the third liberal player, Drasi (1,8%), of veteran politician Stefanos Manos. In order to avoid splitting the liberal vote, this move had previously been argued for by leading liberals such as Graham Watson MEP, ELDR President, and Guy Verhofstadt MEP, chairman of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament.

“We will give a vote of confidence to any government that has a pro-European perspective,” Tzimeros and Manos said during a press conference. “We will vote in favour of every bill that points in the right direction and vote down any anti-growth bill,” Tzimeros added.

The formation of an alliance between the two liberal parties almost failed due to objections by Tzimeros against another Drasi ally, the Liberal Alliance, which is headed by highly controversial gay-rights activist Grigoris Vallianatos. After tense negotiations, Manos and Tzimeros agreed that the three parties will all participate in a coalition named “Recreate Greece”, but no member of Liberal Alliance would receive a position on the coalition list.

The last time a liberal political party made it to the Greek Parliament was in 1977 when two MPs, Konstantinos Mitsotakis and Pavlos Vardinoyiannis, from the Neoliberal Party were elected.