Κυριακή 14 Απριλίου 2024
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Mitsotakis and the battle for centrist voters

Mitsotakis and the battle for centrist voters

While ruling New Democracy has always been a centre-right party, Mitsotakis has chosen to interpret that term as 'less ideological' and 'more practical'.

With a large segment of the media and analysts convinced that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will call early elections in 2022, attention has turned toward the battle for centrist voters.

Mitsotakis in public statements has downplayed the significance of traditional ideological labels, questioning even the utility and substance of the word “progressive” – invoked by both main opposition SYRIZA and the centre-left Movement for Change (KINAL) – in politics.

While ruling New Democracy has always been a centre-right party, Mitsotakis has chosen to interpret that term as “less ideological” and “more practical”.

Downplaying ideology

Until now, the PM has increasing touted policies that might be described as centrist but which he believes transcend ideologies and express a broader swathe of the political spectrum, from the centre-left to the right wing.

Without invoking the term, the PM is effectively trying to fashion a “progressive” image that appeals to a wider base of voters, even as SYRIZA and KINAL are claiming ownership of the term in battle for predominance among centre-left voters.

Given the fact that early elections are considered likely, voters are in the process of re-evaluating their political positions and choices.

The battle for the leadership and the political direction of the Movement for Change has attracted the intense interest of both New Democracy and SYRIZA.

They have both in many ways been courting the base of the centre-left party, which, however, insists that it seeks political autonomy and does not want to serve or be seen as the caboose of either of the top two parties.

Party conventions, political direction

With both New Democracy and SYRIZA preparing for party conventions that will more precisely define their ideological direction and platforms, the political terrain is becoming ever more polarised on all levels, including tough skirmishes between the PM and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, both in and out of Parliament.

Mitsotakis has thus engaged in a difficult and often shifting political balancing act, as evidenced most recently in his clashes with SYRIZA over how to deal with vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens and with the issue of enforcing public health restrictions in churches.

He is attempting to bolster the right wing of his party and the political base of his most right-wing MPs, which has its own political sensitivities and demands, and at the same time he is working to build bridges with centrist and centre-left voters in order to both pressure SYRIZA and lure the voter base of the Movement for Change.

Eleni Evangelodimou

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Κυριακή 14 Απριλίου 2024