The much-discussed Olive Tree – Democratic Faction, as is the coalition’s official name, held its first conference over the weekend at the Peace and Friendship stadium in Piraeus. The coalition sees PASOK joined by the Agreement for New Greece, Dynamic Greece, the New Reformers and a number of other smaller parties.
Despite the sense of anticipation amongst the conference-goers that the newly formed coalition would herald a rebirth of the center left, similarly to the expectations for the “Initiative of 58”, the decision of Fotis Kouvelis to eschew the effort was a rather powerful blow to the organizers.
Even within PASOK though there was a sense of unease, with Venizelos and Papandreou supporters reigniting the internal conflict within the party. While the current party leader is in favor of the Olive Tree effort, Giorgos Papandreou believes it will ultimately hurt the party, with some suggesting that he might even reclaim the party’s leadership.
Indicative of the indecision amongst PASOK was the fact that more than half of the party’s MPs were not present, including prominent members Sahinidis, Moraitis, Chrysochoidis and Sifounakis. Many dissatisfied party members have expressed the opinion that such coalitions will undermine the party.