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The boom in political start-ups

Almost 20 new parties, groups and coalitions have emerged in Greece since the last elections

Olive, River, Burning-Hot Greece, New Day, Plan B or Drachma Five Stars, anyone? Read on if you are confused by the flood of new political parties, coalitions and labels

Exports, imports and retail prices might all be in decline. And unemployment hovering over 27% for nine months straight. But six years into a recession that has ravaged the gross national product, there is one Greek industry showing impressive growth rates: the production of new political parties, movements and coalitions.
At present count, about 18 new parties and formations have been created since the last elections in June 2012. And these weeks seem to be the season for them, with most set up in between March and April, as our timeline below shows. With local and European elections approaching in May, more parties are sure to join them. If you believe the rumours, among those toying with the idea of setting up new parties are former prime minister George Papandreou and members of the former royal family, the Glücksburgs.
The decision of Journalist Stavros Theodorakis to set up a new party called River has resulted in a deluge of media attention for the yet politically fluid entity. River's launch was followed at the weekend by the emergence of Elia (Olive), which is selling itself as a centre-left coalition. While its name is clearly inspired by Italy's Olive Tree coalition, which managed to keep Silvio Berlusconi out of power for a number of years, it's nowhere near as broad politically. Apart from Pasok, which has seen its support plummet from over 40% in 2009 to about 4% now, it is made up of three groups whose members are mainly ex-Pasok.
One of them is Dynamic Greece (Δυναμική Ελλάδα), set up by Elias Mossialos, a professor of public health in the UK and Pasok MP from 2009 to 2012. For a short time he served as government spokesman in 2011. Also involved is Pact for a New Greece (Συμφωνία για η Νέα Ελλάδα), a political project of former Pasok health minister Andreas Loverdos. That party sprang from an earlier outfit, the Radical Movement of Social-Democratic Alliance (Ριζοσπαστική Κίνηση Σοσιαλδημοκρατικής Συμμαχίας).
That being the case, the Greece's Elia "coalition" would perhaps be better represented by a fig tree logo, bedecked with plenty of the proverbial fig leaves for Pasok - and its leader Evangelos Venizelos - to camouflage themselves with.
And the coalition growth industry was joined by a new stand-alone partner on Monday, when Democratic Left (Dimar) announced it was launching the Progressive Cooperation label. Again, it's not clear which parties, if any, will join this new platform, but Dimar has succeeded in wooing former Pasok minister Haris Kastanidis and MEP Marilena Koppa, who resigned from Paosk last month.
What other parties out there?
On the far right of the political spectrum is Greek Dawn (Ελληνική Αυγή), a surrogate party set up by neonazi Golden Dawn figures late in January of this year, in anticipation of the party being banned.
Forward Greece (Εμπρός Ελλάδα) is one of the most peculiar of the new political formations. It is led by Evangelos Bexis, a figure associated with beliefs that the Greeks are a chosen people corrupted by Christianity who can experience a renaissance through Hellenism and the Greek language.
The Patriotic Centre (Πατριωτικό Κέντρο), which has no website, was set up in March 2013 by former members of the Popular Orthodox Rally (Laos). It is led by onetime Laos MP Asterios Rontoulis.
Established by Kostas Zouraris, a former communist who has been outspoken in the Macedonia naming dispute for two decades, Burning-Hot Greece (Πυρίκαυστος Ελλάδα) emerged from Mikis Theodorakis' Spithia (Shield) movement. Zouraris says that the new party is seeking nothing less than to "take power. Anything else would be ridiculous".
Union for the Homeland and the People (Ενωση για την Πατρίδα και τον Λαό), set up last month, the union is headed by former New Democracy minister and parliamentary speaker for just one day Vyron Polydoras. Joining him is another former New Democracy MP and deputy minister Christos Zois, who set up the New Reformist Radical Reconstruction (Nea Mera or New Day for short) in March 2013, after he left Independent Greeks, the main rightwing anti-memorandum party. Last week, The Union for the Homeland and the People, it sees anti-bailout, conservative voters as its its constituency.
Last week, the one-MP Christian Democracy Party of Greece (Χριστιανοδημοκρατικό Κόμμα Ελλάδος) said it would also participate in the union, while keeping its own structures. It is led by former New Democracy deputy minister Nikos Nikolopoulos, who resigned from the new coalition government in July 2012 hours after giving it his vote of confidence.
Another party with an Italian ring to ring to it is the cumbersomely namedDrachma Greek Democratic Movement Five Stars (Δραχμή Πέντε Αστέρων). Clearly aspiring to emulate the success of the Italian populist Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement, it wants Greece to return to the drachma. The eurosceptic party is the creation of Theodoros Katsanevas, formerly of Pasok and once a son-in-law to Andreas Papandreou.
The return to the drachma is also advocated by Plan B (Σχέδιο Β), set up in 2013 by former Synaspismos/Syriza leader Alekos Alevanos.
Founded in January of this year by Stefanos Tzoumakas, a founding Pasok member and twice minister (for labour in 1995-96 and agriculture 1996-98), the Socialist Party (Σοσιαλιστικό Κόμμα) calls for the overthrow of the memorandum, and new social and economic policies based on debt sustainability. 
Not a political party, but a "think tank" set up by another disgruntled Pasok minister, the Diktio-Network for Reform in Greece and Europe (Δίκτυο), to give it its grandiose title, has the fanciest website going of the new political startups. It is led by former Pasok education minister and EU commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, who has indicated that she aspires to setting up her own party.
And there's the Initiative for Democratic Progressive Alignment (Πρωτοβουλία για τη Δημοκρατική Προοδευτική Παράταξη), launched to much fanfare in January. Generally known as the Initiative of the 58, it had sought to create a broad centre-left alliance stretching form the left of New Democracy to the right of Syriza. But it failed to attract the support of Democratic Left and lost credibility as it openly flirted with the existing rump of Pasok. Where it will go now is unclear.
Established formally on March 8, the New Party (Neon Komma) is committed to the "productive reconstruction" of Greece, which it says must be built on justice and the equitable sharing of rights, resources and opportunities. It's leader is pianist Nikos Laaris.
Greeks European Citizens (Έλληνες Ευρωπαίοι Πολίτες) is the new political project of Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, currently an MEP with the German liberal FDP party. Born and raised in Germany, Chatzimarkakis has Cretan origins. His disillusionment with the FDP, which is no longer represented in the German parliament, has led him to Greece.
Timeline: when the parties and coalitions were founded
1 June 2012 Dynamic Greece
July 2012 Burning-Hot Greece
3 December 2012 Radical Movement of Social-Democratic Alliance
3 March 2013 Forward Greece
10 March 2013 Patriotic Centre
21 March 2013 New Day
15 April 2013 Pact for a New Greece
April 2013 Diktio-Network
1 May 2013 Drachma Greek Democratic Movement Five Stars
19 May 2013 Plan B
23 May 2013 Christian Democratic Party of Greece
23 January 2014 Greeks European Citizens
26 January 2014 Socialist Party
Late January 2014 Greek Dawn
26 February 2014 River
8 March 2014 New Party
8 March 2014 Elia
10 March 2014 Progressive Cooperation


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