Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras hinted to his party faithful at the close of New Democracy’s weekend conference on June 30 that he may be ready to change more than just its identity, but its name, to New Greece.
Samaras used the term nearly 20 times during his speech, leading to speculation he wanted to re-brand the party that was founded in 1974 by Konstandinos Karamanlis into his own, even as he is overseeing a fragile alliance with ND’s long-time rivals, the PASOK Socialists, leading some cynics to dub the combine as NeaPASOKratia.
“Real progress needs a spirit of unity. We proved it. I send out an invitation to unity of the center-right to those who were with us, and to those who have drifted away for some reasons, and together all the citizens who feel the need for a new Greece. We hold the flag up high, when other people burn it. In 2021, New Greece will not be a vision, it will be reality,” he said. Lauding the flag, he added: “It symbolizes unity and it is not just a cloth as some foolish people said.”
He seemed to open the door for former members to return to the fold like lost sheep returning amid talk that a breakaway, George Karatzaferis, who created the far-right LAOS party that briefly served in a temporary coalition government last year before failing to win seats in Parliament, could also come back.
Samaras, since barely winning election last year over the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA,) but with not enough support to rule outright, has ruled by following the orders of the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that is putting up $325 billion in two bailouts but demanded harsh austerity measures.
Samaras opposed those conditions when he was out of power and immediately embraced them after winning and said Greece had no choice but to do what it was told by the Troika and that he would do so faithfully.
“New Democracy is the political party that identifies a nation with a people, the country with its people, the state with its citizens, national independence with popular sovereignty, progress with public benefit, political freedom with law and order and social justice,” is in the foundation statement of New Democracy.
ND called itself radical liberals although it is Conservative. It supports free markets with state intervention in favor of social justice, although critics said that has been dismantled under Samaras, who issued civil mobilization orders to break and prevent strikes and is supporting orders of international lenders to take away workers’ rights while cutting salaries, slashing pensions and raising taxes.
New Democracy has been bleeding support to the rising neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party that has gone after the extreme right, but also dragged in those who said they feel betrayed and beleaguered by ongoing austerity that has pushed 20 percent of Greeks into poverty while politicians, the rich elite and tax cheats continue to prosper at everyone else’s expense.