Antonis Samaras – Dora Bakogiannis: How Hatred Turned Into “Love”



Dora Bakoyannis and her party Democratic Alliance accepted Antonis Samara’s invitation to join New Democracy for the electoral battle in June. The return of Dora Bakoyannis and her party was officially announced today, after many days of negotiations on the terms of the agreement.

“The time has come to set aside our differences,” said Democratic Alliance party leader Dora Bakoyannis, a former conservative foreign minister and the first female mayor of Athens.
“We have decided to unite our forces,” said Bakoyannis, who had been ousted from New Democracy following an unsuccessful bid for the party leadership in 2009.
Democratic Alliance garnered 2.55 percent of the vote in the last election, short of the three percent threshold required for parliamentary representation.

A couple of weeks ago, Dora Bakoyannis claimed that the era of two-party domination in Greece was over. Now, she goes back to where she started under the man that caused her father’s political disaster and stopped her from becoming Greece’s first woman Prime Minister.

A Cretan Vendetta

In Greece, the custom of vendettas is mainly  found in two parts of the country – Crete, where Bakogiannis comes from, and in Mani, where Samaras comes from.

Dora Bakogiannis would become the first woman Prime Minister in Greece if it wasn’t for Antonis Samaras, ND’s current leader she would have succeeded. Two years ago, Bakogiannis lost the battle for presidency of New Democracy to Samaras. But there was no love lost between Samaras and Bakoyannis before their fractious leadership race. The famous vendetta between Dora’s father, ex-prime minister, Cretan-born Konstantinos Mitsotakis, and Antonis Samaras goes back to 1993 and it is full of passion, hate and revenge  just like all Cretan vendettas.

Samaras served as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Mitsotakis government. After being removed from his post in 1992, he founded his own party Political Spring, located politically to the right of New Democracy. The defection of one member of Parliament from New Democracy to Samaras’ party caused the government’s fall from power in 1993.

His decision to cross the Prime Minister by adopting an approach on the Macedonian issue that was too strident, proved ill-fated as Samaras’s party, Political Spring, burnt brightly and then fizzled out during the course of the 90’s, never managing to gather more than 5 percent of the vote. Since then Samaras was the red flag for the Mitsotakis family, who literally eliminated him for almost ten years before Kostas Karamanlis appointed him as Minister of Culture in 2009.

New Democracy Elections 2009

Contrary to what many people thought, the ND leadership contest never went to a second round, as Samaras edged past the 50 percent mark to dash the longstanding hopes that Dora Bakoyannis had of leading the conservative party.

Right after Bakoyannis lost to Samaras, she said that she is a “fighter” and she will remain in the party, while all the commentators argued that her exiting from the party was only a matter of time. Their predictions were confirmed when Bakoyannis forced the party leadership to disassociate her in May after her positive vote on the memorandum of economic aid between Greece and the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission, contrary to the party line.

She then quit the party and – just like Samaras did back in 1993 – she formed her own, the Democratic Alliance, but only a handful of conservative deputies followed her, and the dramatic mass exodus dreamed or schemed of never actually occurred.

The Mitsotakis Dynasty

Family plays the main part in Cretan vendettas and so it does in Antonis-Dora vendetta. Dora comes from a big, traditional Cretan family with very strong ties but other than being traditional, the Mitsotakis famliy is one of three families that have ruled Greece for the past 35 years. Along with the Karamanlis and the Papandreou families, they established a system of economic patronage. They threw around billions the government didn’t actually have and showered friends and relatives with prosperity that was all based on credit.

Just like all Cretan families, the Mitsotakis family are very close; in fact this family is a good example of how nepotism – the favoritism granted to relatives and friends regardless of their merits – has been a common practice in Greece. Dora’s father was a Prime minister, and came from a political family; his father and grandfathers were members of parliament, and the great liberal leader Eleftherios Venizelos was his uncle. Dora herself became mayor of Athens and a minister in the Karamanlis government, Dora’s brother is an MP in New Democracy and Dora’s son, Kostas Bakogiannis is the mayor of Karepenisi, a town in Nothern Greece.