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Will ‘Macedonia’ Push Greeks to a New Right-Wing Party?

A new political party in Greece that would occupy the space between the conservatives of New Democracy and the extreme-right Golden Dawn may be on the cards, as negotiations with FYROM on the naming dispute gather pace.

Greek media speculate that right-wing politicians with a vibrant nationalist message are working behind the scenes to create a party that will replace the Independent Greeks (ANEL) who have dominated this particular space.

ANEL, a junior government partner under the leadership of Defense Minister Panos Kammenos have made it clear that they will support Alexis Tsipras’ government even if the term Macedonia is included in a deal with Skopje.

This is a major U-turn by Kammenos and his party which campaigned on a ‘Macedonia is Greece’ ticket for many years.

Kammenos’ fiery speeches against the use of ‘Macedonia’ by Skopje are no longer. Asked this week whether he will attend Sunday’s rally in Athens, Kammenos said that he will be out of the country, but his family may take part.

ANEL and its leader have decided to keep a low profile in order to continue in government. Being in power is seen as more important than the upholding of their principles on the naming dispute.

This, analysts point out, may lead to their political oblivion as rumors abound about the creation of a new party which would wrest their patriotic message away from their grasp.

Recent opinion polls suggest that ANEL are well below the three percent electoral threshold needed to be represented in Greece’s next parliament.

Is Frangos the new man?

Although no figure has yet emerged that could lead a new political party to the right of New Democracy, some analysts point to Frangoulis Frangos, a former general who was a keynote speaker at the Thessaloniki rally on Macedonia on Jan. 21.

“Macedonia is and will remain Greek”, he proclaimed to the assembled crowd that was chanting his name.

He warned that “people will not sit back and watch the politicians sign a deal that will include the term Macedonia”.

In a recent interview with SKAI TV, Frangos, born in Komotini, western Thrace, denied that he about to launch a new party but added that he will “consider it, if the need arises”.

Frangos lacks the political know-how and the oratorical skills needed to make him a leading voice of a right-wing patriotic party.

But, as analysts point out, he may get powerful backers especially in northern Greece, where the Macedonia controversy dominates.

If Greece accepts a deal that includes the term ‘Macedonia’ then hundreds of thousands of Greeks that feel their pride and history is threatened may turn to Frangos or somebody similar for leadership.