New Democracy’s Marx Brothers For Mayor



Aris Spiliotopoulos (L) and Nikitas Kaklamanis go over a contract about who will run for Mayor of Athens
Aris Spiliotopoulos (L) and Nikitas Kaklamanis go over the Athens Mayor’s contract

Next to watching a Marx Brothers movie, nothing is as entertaining these days as watching Greece’s New Democracy Capitalists running around like Keystone Cops trying to figure out who’s in charge and who’s doing what to who and why because the alleged leader, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, is trying to herd cats without a whip.

Samaras’ coalition, that includes the invisible PASOK Anti-Socialists who didn’t even register in one poll at the three percent level needed to enter Parliament, has only a three-vote majority, and that would evaporate if he tried to reprimand or oust a growing number of miscreants and late-to-the-party rebels.

Chief among them is Nikitas Kaklamanis, 67, who was a one-man train wreck as Mayor of Athens from 2007-10, a tenure marked by his flitting around to the theater while the city disintegrated around him, which would have made him perfect for  A Night at the Opera but not as a manager of the nation’s capital.

Since politicians in Greece never die nor fade away, after he was beaten by New York-born George Kaminis – who was backed by a coalition of leftist parties including PASOK but quickly wised up and became an Independent – Kaklamanis found a home in the Parliament where he was content for a few years taking orders from Samaras on how to vote.

A doctor who didn’t take the sage advice not to treat himself, in this case for constant bouts of screaming ineptitude, he’s decided he wants his old job back. The only problem is that Samaras has anointed Aris Spiliotopoulos, 47, another water carrier for the party, to be backed by New Democracy to take on Kaminis, who’s proved to be a capable administrator even as Samaras has kept cutting his budget.

With another of his MP’s already under the spotlight for allegedly being involved in a bad loan scheme when he was working for a municipality, and another being looked at for allegedly stashing money in secret foreign bank accounts at the same time the government was urging people during a crushing economic crisis to be patriotic and keep their money in Greece, Samaras didn’t need the distraction of Kaklamanis running against his own party.

Since he can’t run as New Democracy’s candidate – at the same time he’s a New Democracy MP – Kaklamanis will put together a temporary political group (party) so he can run against his party’s candidate and, by proxy, himself.

What Groucho Kaklamanis has done in challenging Chico Spiliotopoulos has effectively given an outside shot at neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, who’s crazy as a loon, to have a shot at winning this thing because the two New Democracy candidates are going to split the vote from the right.

If that’s not enough to weaken the right, the Independent Greeks, made up of New Democracy rejects and ejects, said it’s backing Vassilis Kapernaros – who’s also being audited for allegedly sending money out of the country for its choice.  But wait – there’s more.

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Two more New Democracy outcasts, now Independent deputies Vyron Polydoras and Costas Zois, who launched a new political party, Union for the Homeland and the People,  have reportedly invited Alexia Evert, daughter of late Miltiadis Evert, a former New Democracy President, to be its candidate. That means she’d be running against her father’s own party too.  Pretty soon you’re going to need a program to keep track of this.

Kaklamanis is going to sing his platform and it goes something like this: “The last time I ran this place I didn’t know what to do with it. If you think this city’s bad off now, just wait til I get through with it.”

A bewildered Samaras, who’s trying to keep the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) at bay with one hand while trying to tame his unruly party members with the other, can’t do much about it because he needs every vote.

All he could say when asked about Groucho and Chico running against each other was, “Whoever stands, stands.” With leadership like that you can bet it won’t be a New Democracy candidate. Where’s LBJ when you need him?

Spiliotopoulos reportedly even wasn’t Samaras’ first choice as it was said that Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni, who’s easy on the eyes indeed and by most accounts has helped produce record tourism just when the country needs money the most, turned down his invitation.

So now all Samaras has done in anointing a reluctant candidate and letting Kaklamanis spit in the Prime Minister’s face instead of being told to sit back down and collect his $10,000 a month or be booted for good reasons – not for defying orders to back austerity – is embolden Kasidiaris, who was arrested along with other Golden Dawn leaders and henchmen on charges of running a criminal gang.

You can bet that Little Adolf Kasidiaris already imagines himself being Mayor of Athens and ordering a roundup of immigrants to be executed in Syntagma Square or put on boats and pushed out to sea toward Africa or the Middle East after looking at the Chinese Fire Drill that is New Democracy.

The Capitalists like to poke fun, with much good reason, at the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), a motley collection of Communists, anarchists, Maoists, Trotskyites, Stalinists and Che Guevara admirers and Fidel Castro suck-ups for being discombobulated but this New Democracy debacle makes SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras look like J. Robert Oppenheimer.

So let Groucho Kaklamanis and Chico Spiliotopoulos settle this by meeting and going over the contract for who’s running for what. It will go something like this:

Kaklamanis: Now pay particular attention to this first clause, because it’s most important. There’s the party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the party of the first part. How do you like that, that’s pretty neat eh?

Spiliotopoulos: No, that’s no good.

Kaklamanis: What’s the matter with it?

Spiliotopoulos: I don’t know, let’s hear it again.

Kaklamanis: So the party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the party of the first part.

Spiliotopoulos: Well it sounds a little better this time.

Kaklamanis: Well, it grows on you. Would you like to hear it once more?

Spiliotopoulos: Just the first part.

Kaklamanis: What do you mean, the party of the first part?

Spiliotopoulos: the first part of the party, of the first part.

At that point, they throw up their hands and decide New Democracy doesn’t have a party of the first part or second part, and doesn’t really have a party at all.

They tried to throw in a sanity clause at the end but everyone knows there’s no sanity clause, especially in Greece.