The impressive citizen turnout to elect the leader of the new, emerging centre-left party is a resounding message in many directions.
It is first of all a message to the supporters of the centre-left, who must bring the project to fruition, as they promised. But it is also a loud and clear warning to those, mainly on the Syriza side, who tried to play down, discredit, and show disdain for the effort to reconstitute the democratic, progressive party.
It is clear that a segment of the erstwhile voters of the once dominant centre-left that had turned to Syriza are returning to the centre-left. They are disappointed and displeased that the expectations that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had cultivated were belied. They appear to be middle class citizens who suffered huge blows over recent years and were obviously targeted by the current ruling majority.
A clear indication of the prime minister’s concern is that he hastily delivered a televised address to the nation yesterday evening, merely to say how he will distribute a small part of the budget surplus produced by over-taxation.
Mass participation and the voters’ choice demonstrated that, despite the political wear and electoral decline, the roots of the centre-left, and the emotional bonds with that part of the political spectrum, remain alive, especially among citizens who have experienced its presence over the last decades.
The rebirth of the centre-left front is not exhausted with just one election. That is a starting point, but there is much yet to be done for it to attempt to reclaim the role that it has played historically.
Mainly, it must provide the necessary balance to offset today’s narrow, two-party dominance.
It is the responsibility and duty of the new leader, who will be elected in the run-off this coming Sunday, to carry out the mandate given by citizens who voted in the polls. He or she must meet the commitments they have undertaken and guard the dynamic and unifying disposition of voters exhibited in the first round.
Of course, no one wants to again watch political trench warfare and personal clashes ahead of the run-off.
The future of the new party and the expectations it created do not end with this election.
The big challenge is how to shape a contemporary, progressive reform policy, without the sins of the past and without a hegemonic leader, but with a renewal of political personnel.
The citizens have opened the way. The new leader has a duty to follow it