ATHENS – Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis, who offered to quit because his party was vanishing in the polls, has been re-elected nevertheless.
Kouvelis, whose party has about 1 percent in polls and is now essentially irrelevant, had been blistered for overseeing its demise but the faithful brought him back anyway.
At the party’s Congress on Oct. 5, he got 68.34 pct of the vote, receiving 503 out of a total of 745 votes. Rival candidate Dimitris Loukas received a total of 155 votes, or 21.01 pct of votes cast, while 79 delegates or 10.71 percent abstained
After the result was announced, Kouvelis said that DIMAR is returning totally to political life and wants to meet its obligations toward society in order to bring the country out of the crisis with its people “still standing,” the Athens News Agency reported.
“It is a force of responsibility for change and will strive steadfastly, with its positions and ideas, for solutions to the country’s major problems,” he said, although his party has no say in any of it.
DIMAR joined the coalition of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives and the PASOK Socialists in 2012 but quit last year in a dispute over the firing of public workers at the now defunct national broadcaster ERT, but the damage was done as it paid the price for first supporting harsh austerity measures.
A DIMAR lawmaker, Yiannis Panousis, openly challenged Kouvelis’ leadership before the vote.
“When a leader says, ‘I’m resigning,’ he goes,” said Panousis in reference to Kouvelis’s decision to tender his resignation after the European Parliament elections May but not to leave the party.
“A real leader knows how to say sorry and leave. He cannot take credit for 6.2 percent [DIMAR’s result in the June 2012 general elections] and none of the blame for 1.3 percent [the party’s result in the EU vote],” added Panousis.
The MP also said that he has no intention of being part of the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) should the party join its forces with the leftists again.
Despite his dismal standing with voters, Kouvelis has been mentioned as a possible nominee by the ruling parties as their choice for Greek President in February, 2015, in an attempt to derail plans by SYRIZA to block the election and force early national elections.