For the last two years, the New Democracy Party has held power in Greece, following 23 years of almost continuous rule by the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK).  The general impression abroad is that New Democracy is a conservative party, the Greek equivalent of the Christian Democrats in Germany or the Republican Party in the United States.  This impression is reinforced by its participation in the international conservative European People’s Party (EPP) and its political conflict with PASOK.  However, a more careful analysis of Greek political realities leads to a different conclusion.

In a January 8, 2004, television interview, the president of New Democracy, Greek Prime Minister Constantinos Karamanlis, declared that “there is no disagreement between New Democracy and PASOK in foreign-policy strategy.”  This statement is, in fact, proved by a comparison of the two parties’ positions.

New Democracy, as opposed to the EPP and the Church of Greece, supports the accession of Turkey to the European Union.  If this ultimately does take place, Greece and the rest of Europe will be deluged with millions of Turkish Muslims bearing European passports, a demographic nightmare that will mean the end of Europe as we know it.  Far from cautioning against such an outcome, New Democracy actually acted as a mediator in support of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s request for Turkey’s ruling Islamic Justice and Development Party to become a member of the EPP.

The February 8, 2005, statement of Mrs. Psarouda-Benaki, chairman of the Hellenic Parliament, is typical of New Democracy’s attitude toward the European Union: “[T]he national borders and a part of national sovereignty will be limited for the sake of peace, prosperity and security in the enlarged Europe.”  Together with PASOK, New Democracy rushed approval of the E.U. constitution, which lacks any mention of the Christian cultural character of Europe and transfers more power from the nation-states to Brussels, through the Hellenic Parliament, without a referendum.  At the beginning, Greeks were divided on the E.U. constitution (44.57 percent for, 38.85 percent against), but, after France and the Netherlands rejected it, Greek public opinion shifted (only 34 percent for, with 53.6 percent against, according to Greek news website

New Democracy was one of the few European conservative parties in the Council of Europe to vote against the memorandum condemning the crimes of communism.  At the recent EPP convention in Rome, Mr. Karamanlis delayed his entrance to the meeting room so as to avoid sitting next to the host, then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whom Karamanlis considers very conservative.

In 2005, New Democracy offered an amnesty to all illegal immigrants in Greece, without conducting a study of the impact of the large number of these foreigners on Greek society.  This amnesty joins PASOK’s previous amnesties of 1999 and 2001.  The issue has taken on explosive social dimensions: Greece now has the largest proportion of immigrants (ten percent) of any member of the European Union, and many urban Greek neighborhoods have been transformed into ghettos.  Ignoring this reality, Interior Minister Pavlopoulos stated in Parliament that “immigration contributes to the economic development, the social progress and the fertilization of civilization” and supports an amnesty “of all illegal immigrants.”  The fact that Greek law requires the deportation of illegal immigrants matters little to the New Democracy government.

New Democracy’s lack of any real conservative foundation is evident in the party’s affinity for the Marxist left.  When asked by Diavazo magazine to list his reading preferences, Prime Minister Karamanlis replied that “he reads with persistence and patience the leftist intellectuals, such as Marx.”  The historical worldview of New Democracy is unashamedly anticonservative: It honors those who struggled for the establishment of a communist dictatorship in Greece.  During his visit to the island of Agios Eustratios, to which communists were deported during the Greek Civil War, Mr. Karamanlis paid homage “to the citizens who were persecuted and suffered at this place” and pledged to secure 440,000 euros to transform the place into a “Museum of Democracy.”

The notion that New Democracy is conservative is an illusion in the minds of those who cannot or will not face reality.  By international standards, New Democracy is a center-left party.  Those interested in preserving the Christian values of the nation and the Greek tradition should look elsewhere for a standard bearer.