A week after his party pulled out of the ruling coalition following a dispute over Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s unilateral decision to close down state broadcaster ERT, Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis lashed out at his former partners in government and appealed to the broader center-left to bolster his beleaguered party.
Blaming Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives and the PASOK Socialists for roping him into a coalition that buried Greeks with austerity and pushed his party to the edge of extinction, Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis told what remains of his vanishing forces that he needs news partners to stay alive politically.
Speaking on the heels of a survey which showed DIMAR barely has 3 percent support – the minimum threshold needed to gain seats in Parliament -Kouvelis said he’s looking for “reformist, progressive, ecological, leftist and democratic forces” to come together in an alliance that would seek a “democratic and just Greece.”
Those are the attributes he ditched to join Samaras’ fragile coalition a year ago before walking away last week when he said he could not support the closing of national broadcaster ERT and the firing of all its 2,656 workers.
Kouvelis has nowhere to turn though because he can’t work with his former partners and said he has no interest in joining forces with the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) which he accused of following “dead-end policies” that would not help the country emerge from a protracted economic crisis.
Referring to the ERT closure, and other unilateral decisions by Samaras, Kouvelis accused the premier of “despotism,” complaining that the tactics had not promoted reform but the opposite, while indirectly accusing PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos of exploiting the ERT debacle for his own party’s gain. For all that, he said previously he would support the government he quit on a case-by-case basis despite evidence that has destroyed his party.
Questioned about Kouvelis in an interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini, veteran socialist and former Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos remarked that the Democratic Left leader “proved to be useless in the government and was not even capable of provoking a major political crisis.” Pangalos, ripping apart Kouvelis as an appendage of no use, said,
“Kouvelis and his cadres didn’t want anyone to be fired from the public sector, ever,” Pangalos said. “That was their basic problem.” Pangalos didn’t mention that it was his party that Samaras – who admitted political hires as well – said had packed ERT with useless workers and no-show high-paid advisors in patronage positions of even less use than he said Kouvelis was.
For a year, Kouvelis backed pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions demanded by international lenders although that was antithetical to the his party’s principles and now is criticizing the government he served for doing that.