Greece’s already-fractured Center-Left spun out of control into a vortex on Feb. 25 when The 58 Initiative, a collection of intellectuals and academics hoping to unify the alignment, said it would not work with the vanishing PASOK Socialists to form a singular Olive Tree movement.
That was in reference to an Italian scheme and was designed to prevent a complete collapse of the Socialists and their ideological kin who fell into chaos instead over voting methods.
The 58 wanted to keep the status quo of having candidates on the ballot chosen by parties and not, as PASOK wanted, to let voters pick who they wanted to vote for on the ballot by putting a cross next to their names.
That idea was embraced by the ruling New Democracy Conservatives of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, whom PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos serves as his Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister, rewarded with the titles after backing harsh austerity measures imposed by the government on the orders of international lenders.
Yiannis Boulgaris, who heads the collection of people frustrated with the fast-fading PASOK and other splintered Leftists parties, called Venizelos and told him the Initiative wouldn’t take part in a collaboration.
Venizelos had wanted PASOK, which has hit a rock bottom 3-5 percent in polls and is danger of not making the threshold to enter Parliament in the next elections, to be on a unified ticket with the Initiative to prevent a collapse.
Confusion was said to reign between the two sides as neither seemed to know what the other wanted nor how to get it, with PASOK in a panic mode as the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) has taken the lead in polls.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, who is opposed the terms of two bailouts with the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) said the ruling parties and he will come to power next year and force a renegotiation or Greece will walk away from the $325 billion it owes, leaving the country broke.
Compounding the uncertainty, some members of The 58 disagreed with their leader, setting up a three-way schism of doubt. “It will not participate in the procedures or in the negotiations to draw up a euro voting list. It does not refer to names and there will be no candidates representatives of the 58 listed on the ballot,” the Initiative statement said.
The 58 indirectly blamed Venizelos, saying he was defensive and trying to micro-manage and take over the joint effort.
The 58 officials stated they would participate in a political conference on March 8-9 with European Parliament President Martin Schulz trying to restructure the democratic left by supporting the European Socialists and Democrats but not PASOK.
There was disarray among the Center Leftists as tension was reported high between the two camps.
Boulgaris said 20 of his members jumped ship on the Olive Tree idea and he was left with only 38 but it wasn’t clear if the Initiative would go on with a reduced number.
The 58 Initiative has decided to be only observers without any political power nor form a party. But it said anyone left in the Initiative who disagrees with the disagreements and wants to agree with PASOK instead of agreeing with the Initiative can still run, even though the Initiative won’t recognize them.