ATHENS – With the decline of the once-dominant PASOK Socialist party into irrelevance, a new center-left political movement called The 58 Initiative, which brings together 58 personalities from the worlds of politics, academia and the arts is to be launched officially in Athens on Dec. 9 even though its leaders are already squabbling over what direction it should take.
Springing out of discontent over the political landscape in Greece, the 58, likened to Italy’s former Olive Tree movement, came together as an alternative to the disparate leftist parties in Greece that are foundering, particularly PASOK, which would be a marginalized back bench party if its leader, Evangelos Venizelos, hadn’t gone against the party’s principles to support austerity measures, earning him a spot in Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras’ coalition government as Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister.
Curiously, although it could be seen as a rival – unless it becomes a full-fledged political party which is up in the air – Venizelos has given The 58 Initiative his support, although a number of other former and current PASOK members doubt the new movement will make any impression and fall by the wayside as a raft of other new political groupings have in the past few years after they sprung up to challenge the status quo.
Some PASOK MPs may attend the kick-off but those from the Democratic Left (DIMAR), which quit the coalition in June over the closure of former state broadcaster, ERT, were reportedly upset that their leader, Fotis Kouvelis, won’t even talk to The 58 Initiative personalities, further splintering Greece’s already scattered Leftist movements.
But even before the announcement was due, prominent members of the movement were said to be uncertain how it would operate, whether it would become a party or just stand on the sidelines and shout policies.
Former PASOK MP and minister Anna Diamantopoulou suggested that the movement should become a fully fledged political party but another ex-PASOK minister, Nikos Bistis said he still wants to see if he can link up with PASOK and DIMAR, who aren’t talking to each other.