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Potami Leader Says Greece Needs Renaissance, "Big Change"

Stavros Theodorakis' political movement has little support so far
Stavros Theodorakis’ political movement has little support so far

The leader of the new To Potami (The River) political movement which got just 6.6 percent of the vote in the European Parliament elections, has called on Greeks to reject the two-ruling party system which brought the country to bankruptcy.
Former TV presenter Stavros Theodorakis said Greece needs a “Big Change” from the rule of New Democracy Conservatives and PASOK Socialists who took turns the last 40 years spending Greece into ruin, forcing the government in 2010 to ask for what turned into 240 billion euros ($327 billion) in two bailouts from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).
“Greece should create its own Renaissance,” he said, addressing the Congress of his new party which will meet through June 29. He said Greece also needs a “patriotic action plan, a new social contract which will inspire society,” the Athens News Agency reported.
Despite his criticism of the ruling parties, however, Theodorakis said Potami representatives elected to Brussels would sit in the same group with PASOK, which attached itself to another new movement called Elia, or Olive Tree, in a bid to keep from becoming extinct as its support had fallen to as low as 3 percent for backing pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings. PASOK is as partner in Samaras’ coalition government.
While Potami’s showing got it fifth place in the European ballot, it had been as high as third before Greeks settled back into supporting traditional parties.
Theodorakis said Greeks must decide “whether they will let alone the two ruling parties, whether they will offer them satellite parties) ‘crutches’ or whether they will ask for someone to bring them to their senses”.
“There are different things which a movement of 6% can impose compared to [representation of] 12% or 18%,” he said, comparing himself to traditional parties which still loom larger. He said he wants the change, “which is being announced for decades, but never comes”.
In his speech, Theodorakis stood against Right or Left populism and said that founding pillars should be “social justice and meritocracy, a new public sector and a new production model.” He didn’t mention the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party which opposes the bailout terms of austerity.
He also talked about making the national elections system more representative of the vote of the people, reviewing the privileges and benefits of the political system, news publishers and media businessmen, drastically reducing the number of ministers in the government and reforming the tax system into being stable and fair.
Theodorakis concluded by describing Potami as a “movement that can act as a Trojan horse for young people to enter the impregnable castle”.
New Democracy secretary Andreas Papamimikos, speaking at the Congress, said, “Today, after five years of crisis, two sides have been formed. On the one hand, the people of common sense, production and reforms, and on the other the populists, the trade unions and the interests of all kinds that do not want anything to change. Whether we like it or not, this is the front. We have those to face if we want to get away from the mentality that made us bankrupt”.
Papamimikos added “we Greeks have common challenges. We can also shape, therefore, a common conception on a series of crucial issues on the basis of logic”.
The Democratic Left (DIMAR), which has fallen off the map for serving in the New Democracy-PASOK coalition before leaving in a fight over worker firings, was also represented at the meeting and is open to talking with other groups, the party’s Central Committee secretary Thanassis Theocharopoulos said
“DIMAR has decided to actively participate in the dialogue for the center-left and for the creation of a progressive rule of the country, and the participation of Potami will contribute to wards guaranteeing the progressive wing’s strong presence,” Theocharopoulos said, and called on Potami to “sit at the common table of dialogue.”

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