Thursday, October 29, 2015
Greece: Dynastic divisions
October 29, 2015
Until Alexis Tsipras swept to victory in national elections nine months ago, Greece had been governed almost continuously by scions of the country’s most politically-connected families for over a decade.
Antonis Samaras, Mr Tsipras’s immediate predecessor, descends from a family so prominent that the street running into the entrance of his Athens prep school was named for his maternal grandfather. George Papandreou, premier at the outset of the eurozone crisis, is the son and grandson of prime ministers. And Kostas Karamanlis, the longest-serving of the group, is the nephew of another prime minister who founded the country’s main centre-right party, New Democracy.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, one of the politicians seeking to revive New Democracy after it was crushed by Mr Tsipras’s far-left Syriza party in elections last month, says it is time to end the dominance of the Greek political dynasties.
“New Democracy, if you look at the party, it’s almost feudal in its structure,” Mr Mitsotakis says, sitting tieless in his Athens office. “You have the big political families . . . the big players, the old prime ministers, and everyone is sort of bargaining for power. This is rubbish.”
But Mr Mitsotakis — arguably the most prominent of four candidates seeking to lead New Democracy — acknowledges he may be a somewhat awkward messenger. Not only is he the son of a former prime minister, but his sister, Dora Bakoyannis, is a former mayor of Athens and Greek foreign minister who ran for party leader against Mr Samaras six years ago.