An Open Letter to Antonis Samaras
Dear Mr. Samaras, Yesterday’s article in the “Financial Times” (“Greek right a hostage to its own failures”) included some very negative comments against you and the New Democracy party, which should seriously concern you. It’s very clear that the newspaper does you a major injustice when it chooses to include the opinion of some woman named Niki Siropoulos, who calls you “a complete idiot.” I don’t know any idiots who have graduated from Harvard Business School, like you did. Quite the contrary, in fact. However, what should concern you now, while there is still time left, is the fact that – just like in last Saturday’s WSJ article – that the distinct impression left in the article is that the newspaper is preparing its readers for a possible victory by SYRIZA in the coming elections. Its true that you have followed the wrong strategy in some cases ever since your election as New Democracy president, as the paper notes. At first, you opposed the memorandum, while you were later forced to do an about-face – out of a sense of responsibility to the country, I’m sure – to keep the country from going under. However, I am afraid that you continue to follow the wrong campaign strategy. Your strategy appears to rest on scaring voters about the “disaster” that a victory for Alexis Tsipras may bring about. Even though what you say is correct, I am afraid ths message might not produce the desired results. What the voters want to know is what you will do, not what Mr. Tsipras will do. Let your aids take on Mr. Tsipras. Your focus should be to explaining to the people the essence of the economic problem and to present them a realistic program to handle the crisis. By making Tsipras the central figure of your campaign, you are actually giving him more credit than you should. Coming out against him from the left side of the political perspective you give him credibility. The model that you are following has never succeeded. You’ve probably noticed this in America on many occasions. When politicians try to scare the people about their opponent without providing them with a realistic alternative, than this works in favor of their opponents.
Mr. President, Tsipras has a big advantage over you. He is young, untainted, a good speaker, and will stop at nothing. Compared to him, your party looks old, and seems more like a part of the problem than a part of the solution. FT ran a comment by MRB’s Ilias Nikolopoulos, who stated that voters ages 45-55 were leaning towards SYRIZA. If this is true, than the problem runs very deep and there is little time to make adjustments. Educated voters should have been your natural allies. They know more about the economy than the other voters and can pick up on the tricks that SYRIZA is trying to pull. Allow me to make a proposal: - Since people are wondering which officials will run the country, - Since we know very little about Tsipras’ aides and who will flank him if he wins the elections - Since we know a lot, perhaps too much, about New Democracy’s cadres, - Since your one-man rule as head of New Democracy is not effective, I propose that you entrust a small group of party officials to become the faces of the campaign. These officials should be young, well educated and untainted, and of course, operate under your direction. These officials might later be called upon to assume a government post. In other words, you must counter Tsipras with other young, educated, and untainted persons. Keep the leadership role for yourself and cast yourself as the politician with the experience and sense of responsibility to lead the country out of the crisis.
And another thing, regarding the talk about a televised debate: In the 1960 U.S. election, Richard Nixon made a better arguments that John F. Kennedy and knew the issues better especially the one on the foreign policy issue of that time. Still, Kennedy, who was young and charismatic, won the audience over compared to Nixon who perspired profusely. The result was that image triumphed over substance. Fortunately Kennedy was no Tsipras. Very Truly Yours,