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A storm in a teacup for the Greek Center-Left

The proposal being floated by the “movement of 58” for a dissolution of PASOK and DIMAR and the establishment of a new center-left political institution with common candidates for the upcoming European elections has again hit stormy weather.

After a cold shoulder from Fotis Kouvelis, president of the Democratic Left (DIMAR), it's now cold showers from the very party they want to woo; PASOK.

However, despite the efforts being made, the row seems meaningless, for the public, as all the bickering is about who gets what in intra-party power plays. For many analysts, any new schemes are already doomed as they draw on the jaded and tarnished personalities of the past that are part and parcel of the downfall of the existing parties in the eyes of the public.

The idea is already being attacked from within PASOK, with the so-called “movement of the 75” led by party cadre Michalis Karhimakis, the movement of 11 comprising former deputy ministers, as well as associates and cadres close to Evangelos Venizelos not wanting to hear of the idea, and dreading becoming a sidecar to the “58.”

The storm in a teacup was sparked off when informal “58” leader, professor Yannis Voulgaris (expressing the modernizing movement of Kostas Simitis) proclaimed the end of PASOK at a function last week, while at the same time attacking the Democratic Left (DIMAR) party for not wanting to collude. Many jaws dropped in PASOK, as apparently most of them hadn't been even asked.

The “58” aim at dismantling PASOK and toppling Evangelos Venizelos from leadership and reuniting all center left forces under the name Democratic Progressive Movement.

The “58” want a new untarnished face to head the new party. This they found in 35 year old Andreas Papadopoulos who they believe should head the ballot for European parliament elections. Mr Papadopoulos had a significant and so far blameless record within DIMAR, which he has now abandoned, and the “58” feel he will constitute an opening to the forces of the political spectrum.

According to some reports, the choice of Mr. Papadopoulos received the “blessing” of the head of the socialist block in the European parliament Hannes Swoboda, during his recent visit to Greece.

The plan of the 58 foresees that if the new political group has a credible showing during the upcoming elections, the young politician should head the new “umbrella” party through some sort of “velvet” succession of Evangelos Venizelos. The proposal seems to be the brainchild of Nikos Bistis, and is seen favorably by those in PASOK that see the party' popularity mired in the low single digits.

But historical figures within PASOK are looking pretty sour at the proposals fearing they'll be sidelined. This has led to Mr Venizelos backtracking from his original position in favor of a common ballot in the upcoming elections. However, the chief of PASOK has not burned all his bridges with the “58” and still discusses the idea of a common ballot, despite letting barbs fly in the directions of both the “58” and DIMAR.