Regardless of each person’s policy preferences, New Democracy, which is now holding its convention, is the dominant expression of political conservatism in the country. It has expressed, since its founding by Constantine Karamanlis in 1974 and until today, broad swathes of society.
It was and is a large political party, with historic depth. It is a descendent of the People’s Party, which was the cornerstone of conservatism during the time of the ‘’great division’’ between Venizelists and monarchists, and in the post-war years led the struggle with the left, forging a union of bourgeois and popular forces, which in the end prevailed and led to a national reconstruction.
With all the errors, passions, and excesses of the Greek post-Civil War era, this party largely determined our national course, and kept Greece in the free, Western world.
Distinguished personalities with definite convictions and perceptions emerged from the party’s ranks. The greatest of them was New Democracy founder Constantine Karamanlis, who is considered the absolute link between the post-war period and the post-junta era, after 1974.
The party which Karamanlis founded immediately after the restoration of democracy was modern, national, bourgeois, and popular, all at once. It was influenced by its French counterpart, the party of Charles de Gaulle.
The party was distinguished mainly for its contribution to the restoration and entrenchment of democracy in our country, and especially for Greece’s accession to the European Community.
That was the central policy choice, which has until now determined our national path.
Much has transpired since then. The party went through travails, won and lost power, waged ideological and other political battles, and underwent many transformations and jolts.
In the period before the crisis, New Democracy governed imprudently, and later, wounded, proved unable to manage the crisis responsibly.
In its efforts, it abandoned its popular nature and became an elitist party, often being tempted by the Sirens of populism that have entered its ranks.
Now, under the leadership of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the party is struggling to regroup, so as to seek power under the best possible conditions.
The party has yet to find a steady and stable stride. It continues to fall prey to easy communications tactics, is not in tune with the great needs of the country, and above all, it is not presenting a clear and comprehensive plan, which would be good enough to persuade citizens that it can lead the country forward.
Because the country is on a cusp, and because New Democracy is emerging as the possible victor in the next general elections, its political convention is exceptionally significant.
Now, it will be decided whether this political party, with its particular, traditional characteristics and its historical points of reference, can persuade people that it has a solution and a way out of the crisis.
Following the failures of today’s left-wing government, citizens can rally behind and coordinate with the main opposition party only on the basis of the strong symbolisms rooted in the history of the party.
Mr. Mitsotakis’ New Democracy can only win the battle if it absorbs the guiding symbolic concepts of the broader centre-right in Europe, which are democracy, justice, freedom, productivity and creativity.
These are ideas and concepts that spring from the depths of history, and with which the Greeks have often identified, especially in trying times, such as our own.