THE SUDDEN RESIGNATION of Portugal’s centre-left prime minister, Antonio Costaalso occupied the Greek political parties, for many different reasons.
Costa, who was one of the most successful leaders of the European South, and probably of the EU, resigned after the involvement of his associates in a scandal, as the Justice of his country is also investigating his own role in this case.
He stated that he did not commit any illegal act and that he has complete trust in the Justice, but since he is also being investigated, he could not remain in the position of Prime Minister.
According to many European media, Costa’s involvement in the scandal investigated by the Portuguese Justice puts an end to the ambitions he may have had and opens the way for “competitors”. Is Kyriakos Mitsotakis one of them?
Does Costa’s resignation affect Mitsotakis’ political future?
The 62-year-old socialist Antonio Costa was seen as one of the most likely candidates for the position of European Council president (now held by Charles Michel) after the June European elections. This position is usually occupied by one of the most widely respected prime ministers of the 27 member states, and in recent months there have been rumors that the Greek prime minister is also interested in this position, something that Kyriakos Mitsotakis denies. The rumors are circulating because he is the strongest centre-right prime minister in the EU, head of a single-party government and elected for the second time.
According to many European media, Costa’s involvement in the scandal investigated by the Portuguese Justice puts an end to the ambitions he may have had and opens the way for “competitors”.
Is Kyriakos Mitsotakis one of them? No one is confirming this, even though the correlations in the European center-right are more favorable than ever for him, which does not mean that there are no “opponents” who would like to get him out of the way, even with the suspicion that he might be interested in promoted to this position. Rumors about his possible interest were also strengthened by the effort that some see to create a profile more pleasing to the major European powers, without disturbing them on issues such as immigration, relations with Turkey, the Balkan agenda, etc. .
Executives of the New Democracy also highlighted the fact that (legal) telephone monitoring carried out in Portugal led to the revelation of the scandal that “dropped” Costa, in order to justify the issue of wiretapping that has occupied the Greek political scene for more than a year.
Costa, SYRIZA and PASOK
The resignation of Antonio Costa was also discussed in SYRIZA and to PASOK, as the socialist politician was the model for both leaderships. Costa has been Prime Minister of Portugal since 2015 and achieved everything that Alexis Tsipras could not achieve in the same period. In his first term he governed as the head of a coalition of socialists and leftists, whom he chose as partners and persuaded to support him.
In the next election of 2019 the voters approved him, giving him the victory, and in the election of 2022 he achieved another sweeping victory, along with self-reliance. He was thus rewarded for his effort to exhaust every margin of social policy in favor of the weakest within the very strict and tight framework of the EU, without giving more than he could or misleading the people of his country with false promises.
The example of Antonio Costa was in his mind Alexis Tsipras in the summer elections, but he failed to win the confidence of the parties he wanted to ally with him for “a progressive government” nor of the voters, as his government had given a completely different writing sample to that of the Portuguese socialist, who gave tangible examples of social policy and effective management.
What Alexis Tsipras did not achieve, he now claims that he will achieve Stefanos Kasselakiswho took the initiative for an introductory meeting with Nikos Androulakis last Monday. The meeting was preceded by statements, such as that of Dimitris Mantzous, regarding the joining of their forces on the wiretapping case.
The PASOK leadership was initially very negative about any cooperation, in contrast to executives such as Giorgos Papandreou and Haris Kastanidis, who, according to Charilaou Trikoupis sources, have been talking with SYRIZA for a long time, but not on behalf of the leadership. “They don’t just represent themselves,” they argue, but they are aware of it, they say.
What Alexis Tsipras did not achieve, Stefanos Kasselakis now claims to achieve, who took the initiative for an introductory meeting with Nikos Androulakis last Monday. Photo: Eurokinissi
Nikos Androulakis has taken a softer stance towards SYRIZA lately, accepting some cooperation on issues such as wiretapping. It is said that the re-approach with him has also played a role in this Vangelis Venizelos, who for a long time was close to Kyriakos Mitsotakis (whose government he has supplied with many executives from his political environment) and this had distanced him from PASOK. For some time now, however, Vangelis Venizelos has distanced himself from Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose relations are quite cold. He has since rekindled his relationship with the president of PASOK and believes that wiretapping should continue to be a central political issue.
Mr. Venizelos, whom his former political opponents in PASOK say aspires to have a role and influence political developments, followed the example of George Papandreou, restoring his relations with SYRIZA, even though he belonged to the leaders of ” anti-SYRIZA front”.
So now Kasselakis’ SYRIZA, which wants to approach the voters of the center, has a good word to say for many of PASOK, except for Kostas Simitis, who was attacked by his elected president, accusing him of the bankruptcy and issuing a reason why Pavlos Polakis approved: “What business do I have with all those who have wasted so many billions of euros of the Greek people? Are we forgetting the entanglement of these years? It wasn’t just modernization. Let others take over the mantle of the country’s debt. SYRIZA certainly did not cause it,” said Stefanos Kasselakis, answering a question from an ANT1 journalist about his absence from the honor event held for the former PASOK prime minister, Costas Simitis.
The party secretary Andreas Spyropoulos he replied that “with what he said, he is literally following the policy of his mentor, Mr. Polakis” and that he is doing what the Greek people condemned as SYRIZA’s opposition tactics in the last national elections.
In SYRIZA, however, and especially in SYRIZA that will remain, if its left wing eventually leaves, the executives who come from PASOK (and from Kostas Simitis’s PASOK) constitute a critical mass. In addition, the opening that he wants to attempt towards the center, attracting the voters of this area, is probably not facilitated by such statements that always leave out the responsibilities of the ND-Kostas Karamanlis government, as observed in PASOK.
The former Minister of Economy, George Stathakis, with his intervention on the “journey of SYRIZA” which ended definitively with the election of Kasselakis, states that the new president represented his “populist” trend (N. Pappas, R. Dourou, P. Polakis, T. Tzakri, etc. .) and the newcomers (Antonaros, etc.). The populists, he says, are committed to moving SYRIZA towards the center and weaning it from the left, “are friendly in using traditional policy tools, such as clientelism, while their political discourse is focused on anti-Mitsotakism” and “ programmatically they are completely non-existent and as political personnel incapable of contributing to the production of new ideas for the conquest of the majority or governance”.
As an expression of this populism, for which he is also accused within his party, they also took Kasselakis’ statement that if they become a government, “those who have wasted the money of the Greek people” will be held accountable because “no one has him”, creating impressions that the previous leadership of SYRIZA “had it”, that’s why it didn’t succeed, as SYRIZA executives pointed out indignantly.
However, the assessment of the first months of the Kasselakis presidency, according to an Alco poll published at the beginning of the week, shows that SYRIZA has suffered significant losses and is at 13.5%, with PASOK at 12.7%. Even more problematic is that, as many pollsters report, the trend for SYRIZA is still down, while PASOK is winning. The meeting of the Central Committee of SYRIZA next weekend will probably decide the future of the official opposition and the developments until the European elections.
The article was published in LiFO print.