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Piraeus municipal race up for grabs

Inevitably the electoral battle for Piraeus is becoming the focus of interest as it is arguably the municipality that has most upset the established political status quo, in these elections.


When “To Potami” announced its formation, government vice president Evangelos Venizelos said that it was a “television show that wanted to become a party.” Now it seems Greece's largest port city could be said to sport a football team that wants to become mayor.

The candidacy of the coalition “Piraeus Victor” that has come to threaten the incumbent mayor Vasilis Michaloliakos, features Yannis Moralis, son of veteran PASOK cadre Petros Moralis, and vice president of Olympiakos FC. In fact the coalition's roster is buttressed by the football team's president Vagelis Marinakis, and former Olympiakos president Petros Kokkalis. The latter's father, Socrates Kokkalis was the man that headed and shaped Olympiakos for decades.

Puns aside, the Moralis candidacy has definitely thrown a spanner in the works of the historic port's traditional political scene, forcing politicos and voters to realign themselves on a totally novel basis.

The Moralis ticket revolving around Olympiakos FC has forced new rifts and cleavages in what was a very solid political bedrock based on neighborhoods and internal migrants that shifted in large blocks towards traditional patron-client political affiliations. No party has remained unaffected by the new coalition, and all parties have lost to its novelty, but mostly New Democracy, and the incumbent Mr Mihaloliakos that it officially backs.

Mr Moralis has found supporters within New Democracy that the ruling party had not expected, like local deputy and education minister Kostas Arvanitopoulos, who appeared at a function hosted by Mr Moralis. The “Pireaus Victor” ticket hosts political persons from across the political spectrum. Some sources attribute Mr Arvanitopoulos' appearance to a move for future political survival

The other New Democracy deputy in the first Piraeus district, Kostas Katsafados has married the daughter of Vasilis Mihaloliakos, which gave him an uneven advantage through Mr Mihaloliakos political machine. This forced Mr Arvanitopoulos who saw a way out of the politically unequal treatment in his constituency.

But Mr Mihaloliakos has been dealt another blow when merchant marine minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis expressed support for the Moralis ticket. The merchant marine ministry is basedd in Pireaus. The support by the two ministers has caught Mr Mihaloliakos off guard. The veteran politician has taken more blows from circulating rumors that he has been a fan of arch-rivals, Panathinaikos, the main Athens team.

The conservative coalition that boosted Mr Mihaloliakos in the last elections has also unraveled, as for example former New Democracy deputy Panayotis Melas joined the Independent Greeks party that is now supporting contender Antonis Kalogeropoulos. His son that had been elected municipal counselor in the past, is siding with Mr Moralis in these elections.

Furthermore, Mr Mihaloliakos is also losing his far right support as those segments will more than likely back the Golden Dawn candidate Nikos Kouzoulos.

Mr Mihaloliakos also enjoyed the backing of former deputy Petros Mantouvalos in the second round in the last elections, however the latter is now running for Attica region governor with the new party formed by Vyron Polydoras, but is also supporting the Moralis ticket.

The situation on the left is also very fluid, with the exception of the communist party that is unflinchingly supporting Elpida Pandelaki.

Thodoris Dritsas is the official SYRIZA candidate and is drawing along support from members of DIMAR. At first DIMAR was focusing on supporting candidate Ilias Tzanetoulakos, prompted by deputy Maria Repousi. However, many from DIMAR flirted with the SYRIZA candidate, drawing along Ms Repousi, despite efforts by party president Fotis Kouvelis to rein in his cadres. In the end DIMAR voted not to support any candidate in Piraeus.

The Moralis ticket has not left PASOK unaffected, although not disturbed as the party is still reeling from the rather dismal mayoralty of Panayotis Fasoulas, and an equally disappointing result from fielding Yannis Michas in the last elections. Certain persons from PASOK promoted Iosif Vourakis, son of a former municipal counselor, as candidate, but most of the outgoing PASOK affiliated counselors are backing the Moralis ticket, despite the fact that he remains the official PASOK backed candidate for mayor. This has led PASOK to keep its distances and toning down any rhetoric. Essentially PASOK is of two minds with half supporting Moralis and the others Vourakis.

Inevitably the electoral battle for Piraeus is becoming the focus of interest as it is arguably the municipality that has most upset the established political status quo, and thrown traditional party affiliations down the drain.