Former leader and driving force of the Green Party, Giorgos Perdikis, has decided to come out of retirement to stand in the leadership elections of his party later this month. It was a peculiar decision from someone who stepped down as leader in 2020 and did not stand in the last parliamentary elections of 2021, because he felt it was time to renew the party leadership.

It was the right call. The Greens had been a one-man show for too long, although there is no denying the fact that it was thanks to Perdikis’ one-man show the party that had become established as a political force. His hard work, activism, talent for self-promotion and understanding of public sentiment made him a household name and raised the profile of the party. He had taken the party as far as he could and his decision to step down was correct.

The 2021 parliamentary elections proved this was the right move. Under a new leader with a completely different style, Charalambos Theopemptou, and with a strong selection of candidates the party elected three deputies for the first time. It was a springboard for the party, but things unravelled before this year’s presidential elections when deputy Alexandra Attalides criticised the party decision not to back any candidate.

Members of the leadership team insisted that she should face disciplinary action for going against the decision of the party. This led to her decision to leave the Greens, and a few days later Theopemptou announced his resignation, opening the way for leadership elections. With the party in disarray, Perdikis announced that he would stand in the elections for the remaining leadership term, in order to unify the party and then depart. He even approached rival candidates and asked them not to stand, so there would be no campaigning.

There were similarities to what had happened at Disy. Former president Nicos Anastasiades played an instrumental role in dividing the party during the presidential elections and then he volunteered to reunify it. Perdikis reportedly played a similar role in the Greens – his supporters undermined the leadership, most probably with his blessing, and now he wants to return as the unifier for a limited period of time.

He does not realise that he will not unify the party, because his return would be a big step backwards to the time the party was a one-man show. There are two younger candidates contesting the leadership and Perdikis would be doing them and the party a big service if he withdrew his candidacy and allowed them to fight it out. The party has moved on since his departure, expanding its support because the new leadership discarded the extreme nationalism embraced by Perdikis.

Is his return intended to place the party back on the nationalist path rather than unify it?