Pasok leader and former minister Fofi Gennimata was the big winner in yesterday’s run-off to choose a leader for an as yet unestablished centre-left party.
In the second round, Gennimata easily defeated former Pasok party secretary Nikos Androulakis with 56.66 percent of the vote, compared to 43.34 percent for Androulakis.
While Gennimata garnered about the same number of votes as in the first round, while Androulakis received 12,000 more votes than in the first round, ostensibly from first-round supporters of Athens Mayor Yorgos Kaminis and To Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis.
Androulakis’ very strong showing guarantees that he will have a central role in the leadership of the new party.
A total of 155,500 citizens voted in the second round, compared to about 210,000 in the first.
Gennimatas thanked the “thousands of progressive citizens who for the second time displayed their resounding presence at the polls”. “I have full cognizance of the responsibilities that are attached to the clean mandate that citizens gave us. We shall all work together to meet their expectations,” she said
Androulakis said that the new party is present and strong vis a vis New Democracy and Syriza, and that he is committed to unity and new prospects.
A crucial question that remains to be answered is whether the new centre-left party would join with either Syriza or New Democracy, neither of which is likely to gain a parliamentary majority in the next general elections, in a coalition government.
That will largely depend on the ideological and policy orientation to be adopted at a future convention.
The planned party is an effort to reconstitute a broad centre left alliance, essentially to fulfil the role that Pasok played before the bailout memorandums, which were initiated with then prime minister George Papandreou’s to turn to the IMF for help.
The crisis decimated Pasok’s party base, pushing it into the single digits in general elections, compared to the over 43.92 percent of the vote Papandreou received in the 2009 general elections.
Most of Pasok’s estranged electorate has been absorbed by Syriza, but a segment of disgruntled voters of both New Democracy and Pasok also helped make the ultra-right Golden Dawn Greece’s third largest parliamentary party.
Both Papandreou and former prime minister Costas Simitis supported the new project and voted in the party polls, as did former Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos.
All of the candidates after the announcement of the results last night issued calls for unity, as the road to the actual creation of a broad centre-left alliance party will be a long one.
The new political scheme is planning a convention, by which time the roles of top cadres and parties will have become clearer. No date has been announced as of yet.
Two parliamentary parties are backing the new political endeavour, Gennimata’s Democratic Alliance (Dimokratiki Symparataxi, a union of Pasok and the smaller Democratic Left party) and Stavros’ Theodorakis to Potami, though a number of Potami members say Theodorakis lacked proper authorisation to commit his party to an endeavour that will lead to its dissolution and incorporation in the emerging centre-left scheme.
But last night, all those involved in the project appeared delighted that for the first time in seven years the centre-left has a chance to claim a weightier role in the Greek political terrain, and indeed calls for continued unity were the order of the day.
“For me, this is the most critical moment. We must all march forward with unity,” said law professor Nikos Alivizatos, whose committee played a central role in coordinating the diverse political elements in the new political project.
Many of those who voted for Gennimata said that her resolve and willingness to make necessary compromises was a motive force in getting the effort off the ground and realising the aspirations of hundreds of thousands of disgruntled former Pasok voters.