Editorial: Opportunity in centrist politics
In his interviews and public appearances, main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras declares the need to 'separate the state from the party' and talks about 'meritocratic institutions'.
Theoretically, main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras recognises that he must attract middle class voters, and particularly those who describe themselves as centrist, in order to reduce the steady, over 10 percentage point lead of ruling New Democracy in opinion polls.
In his interviews and public appearances, he declares the need to “separate the state from the party” and talks about “meritocratic institutions”. He has adopted moderate rhetoric and has single-handedly taken the initiative to restructure SYRIZA.
In fact, his tactics and actions indicate the opposite. For example, centrist voters do not espouse SYRIZA’s stance on major arms procurement deals (most notably with France), as it has been viewed more as sterile opposition without offering justification for its objections. Meanwhile, cadres that have provoked the public with their positions have not been reined in and have alienated moderate voters.
As long as SYRIZA continues to appeal mainly to the emotions of voters, with arguments drawn from the two-party hegemony of the last decade, both PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and centre-left KINAL leader Nikos Androulakis have an opportunity to gain ground in the battle for centrist voters.
Mitsotakis won the 2019 general precisely because he convinced a large segment of centrist voters. Androulakis, as a new player on the political chessboard, represents a party that has traditionally been the main exponent of centrist politics.
It is not an easy battle, yet ND and KINAL are entering it with a firmer grounding than SYRIZA, not necessarily because of their handling of political issues, but rather because of the decisions that the main opposition leader appears to have taken.