Elia, To Potami Ready Their Case

ATHENS – Two new political movements hoping to draw disenchanted voters away from the traditional parties are preparing candidates for the crucial May 25 European Parliament elections that will come at the same time as polls for Greek municipalities.

The surging To Potami (The River) put together by former TV presenter Stavros Theodorakis has already risen to third place in polls, tied with the ultra-far right Golden Dawn even though it had no agenda, no platform and no candidates.

While that was going on, the loose movement called Elia (Olive Tree) that aimed at unifying the center-left has drawn the fading PASOK Socialists who are partners in the coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives.

The Olive Tree, which consists of PASOK and three smaller center-left parties, said that it will present its list of 42 candidates at noon on March 30. A statement from the group said the list would be “unifying” and reflects the “dynamism and prospects” of the alliance.

“It is very encouraging that at this tragically difficult time dozens of people from all over the country want to be part of the Olive Tree’s candidate list,” said Andreas Loverdos, the former PASOK MP who now leads Pact for a New Greece, a party he formed after being booted from PASOK.

However, sources told Kathimerini that Venizelos will seek to bar members of his party who are close to former leader George Papandreou from the list, which is expected to include Socialist MEP Sylvana Rapti and former Agricultural Development Minister Katerina Batzeli.

To Potami is due to detail what it stands for beyond being a populist, anti-politician movement as Theodorakis has been vague on a number of issues. He said he would outline the movement’s platform on March 25, Greek Independence Day.

Everyone is behind in a series of recent polls to the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) which is opposed to the austerity measures that came with two bailouts of 240 billion euros ($330.34 billion) from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that run out this year.

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said he would revise or renege on the deal and predicted the ruling parties which have backed pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions will be repudiated, forcing early national elections he said will bring him to power.