Dimitris Rapidis

Suddenly, after the explosion of the Greek political volcano and the third austerity-led bailout deal, a piece of it was sparked and traveled further than it was set to in the beginning. Truth is that Vassilis Leventis and his party, the Union of Centrists, are coming back from the dusty clocks of the Greek political history, re-emerged as an anti-systemic answer to the current political deadlock and social disappointment. Let’s follow his story,

Leventis is presented by many mainstream media as a moral figure with a deeply-rooted political instinct that many times has proven to be accurate. His “triumph” last January, when for the first time he gained 1,79% (or 110.000 votes), seemed to be the departing point. Based on the majority of latest polls, Union of Centrists will be part of the next Parliament, achieving to overcome the threshold of 3%. Himself states that membership rate to his party has lately reached 1000% and that many veteran politicians from PASOK and New Democracy are paying visit to his office in order to be part of his party’s lists.

Leventis as a TV product

Once pariah of the media and mainstream politics, Leventis is since last January the favorable boy of many TV and radio stations. During the last five months he counted more appearances in the media than any other politician from small parties, like Popular Unity, the Communist Party, the River or PASOK. He frequents SKAI TV and Real News in the radio, where he is put as a puppet to comment daily politics and remind to the Greek public how right his assessments were all along these decades and how well he had foreseen the downfall of the Greek economy and society. A well-know anchorman was also apologetic to Leventis after January elections, saying that he was really sorry for having neglected to bring him more often in his radio shows. Another journalist from SKAI TV was the first to pull Leventis out of oblivion a year ago, suggesting that this guy (i.e. Leventis) was what the current political establishment needs to exit the crisis. So far, so good.

From PASOK to New Democracy

In 1974 Leventis was one the founding members of PASOK and candidate for the socialist party. In 1982 he quits PASOK, he becomes candidate mayor in Piraeus, he loses, and a couple of years later he creates the first green party in Greece. In 1986 he is again candidate mayor, but this time in Athens. He loses again (i.e. 0,57%) and thee years later, in 1989, he joins New Democracy led at that time by Konstantinos Mitsotakis. He is not elected, ranked 29 out 31 candidates in the second prefecture of Athens (i.e. the biggest in the country).

In 1990 he creates a TV station and two years later, in 1992, he gives birth to the Union of Centrists, a name resembling to the old party of George Papandreou in the 1960s called Union of the Centre. During the 1990s, he officially becomes a TV clown and trash figure, having his own emission, but also participating in every kind of midnight shows in order to keep interest around his name and remain omnipresent in the minds and hearts of the Greeks. During electoral campaigns tens of Greeks were visiting his office asking favors of any kind, with one being even now unforgettable: In 1993, people were asking from Leventis “Sea in Trikala city and train from Athens to Crete island”. This sentence summarizes the history of public sarcasm against Leventis.

Who is voting for Leventis?

Union of Centrists is the party of Leventis and Leventis is the Union of Centrists. It is not a traditional movement with ideology and hierarchy, proposals or vision. There is no structure and the most devoted fans last January came from supporters of Thessaloniki biggest football team PAOK. Leventis counts on the undecided and disappointed Greeks that are fed up with all mainstrearm parties that are elected for the last 40 years. The party attracts voters from all parties, except for the Communist Party, from Syriza and New Democracy to Golden Dawn. Still it is unclear if he achieves to enter the Parliament, but Leventis has done the first step: He is now memorized in the minds of young voters that had no idea who that guy was before.



To contact the author Dimitris Rapidis:

Email: rapidisdim@gmail.com

Twitter: @rapidis


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