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Panagiotis Doudonis elected Greek MP

A lecturer in Law at Oriel College since 2018, Dr. Panagiotis Doudonis has been elected as an MP in the Hellenic Parliament as head of the list for PASOK, a social democratic political movement founded in 1974.

Doudonis first joined Oriel as a DPhil candidate in 2016 before later segueing into a lectureship which saw him teaching mainly European Union Law. While an MP he will retain his affiliation with Oriel College, along with his academic title. “Oriel has been a second family,” he said, reflecting on his life so far at College.

Greece had a turbulent political and economic climate in the decade or so following the 2008 financial crisis, which affected countries worldwide but Greece, perhaps, more than most. Throughout this time PASOK, once the firm progressive left-wing pole of Greek’s two-party political system, took a series of big punches to its electoral performance, going from being the largest party to receiving only a 4.68% share of the popular vote.

But that trend was bucked under the leadership of Nikos Androulakis, who was elected as the president of PASOK (rebranded “PASOK – Movement for Change” in 2018 after a series of electoral alliances, internal referendums and mergers) in 2021.

With an emphasis on grassroot campaigns and boosting youth engagement — and also a party manifesto homed in on tackling social inequalities — PASOK achieved a double-figure share of the vote in the May 2023 election, doubling its number of seats in the Hellenic Parliament to 40 (down to 31 seats following another election in June).

PASOK’s electoral success was partly one of Doudonis’ making. He was the chief strategist for the party in the run-up the May election.

As an MP, Doudonis will not be bound to a particular constituency so much as representing the whole of Greece. This breadth of his role is part and parcel of his being elected as head of the list for PASOK.

He said: “I love this campaigning element, since you come to touch directly with the people, and you get to listen to their viewpoints and concerns first-hand, a process that allows you better to understand their everyday struggles.”

A large amount of his time will also be spent in Athens, where he will have a hand in drafting legislation and holding the government to account.

Starting life in academia and later transitioning into politics is not the most typical pathway into public life. However, Doudonis claims that for his part it was a natural one. Constitutional law — his primary area of academic expertise — “sets the framework of the political game”, he explained. “Moving from constitutional law to politics,” he added, “is like moving from theory to practice.”

Asked whether he will be returning to theory, Doudonis answered that he does not consider politics a profession.

Yet he added the caveat that no one can predict the future — and that political futures are even more unpredictable than most.