Greek June Elections
As some of you may remember, and others who may not, the first Greek elections in May resulted in a hung parliament. Another election was scheduled in an attempt to break this deadlock. The results of the last election:
New Democracy, 108 MPs* (18.85 %)
SYRIZA 52 MPs (16.78%)
PASOK 41 MPs (13.18%)
ALEC 33 MPs (10.60%)
KKE 26 MPs (8.48%)
Golden Dawn 21 MPs (6.97%)
DIMAR 19 MPs (6.11 %)
Did not meet threshold
Greens 2.93 %
LAOS 2.90 %
Democratic Alliance 2.55 %
*In the Greek system, the party with the plurality of votes gets a “bonus” of a 50 seats.
To review the parties:
New Democracy: The “Center-Right” party in Greece, and once in government before PASOK’s victory in 2009. Is “pro-bailout”, and has been one of the main players in the interim Papademos government.
PASOK: Pan-Hellenic Socialist Party. “Center-Left” in Greece, was in government briefly from 2009 to 2011 with the resignation of PM Papandreou which I covered on this blog long ago. Pro-Bailout, and one of the main players in the interim government.
SYRIZA: The Coalition of the Radical Left. This party is an alliance of various left-wing groups that have been opposed to the bailouts, though wanting to maintain Greece’s membership in the EU.
ALEC: “Indepedent Greeks”, right wing. They are anti-bailout.
KKE: The Communist Party of Greece. Unlike SYRIZA, KKE wants a total withdrawal from the EU.
Golden Dawn: Nationalists and neo-nazi’s, benefitted at the polls with the collapse in support for the right-wing populist LAOS when it tried to work in the interim government.
DIMAR: Democratic Left, mostly made up of former members of PASOK and right wing members of Synaspismós, the largest party in SYRIZA.
Of these, only PASOK and New Democracy are in favor of continuing the bailouts.
Greeks headed to the polls on Sunday, and the elections are now over. Tallying indicates that New Democracy once again is in the lead, with SYRIZA and PASOK in second and third. According to the Greek election authority, these are the results so far:
New Democracy: 129 seats (29.66%)
SYRIZA: 71 seats (26.89%)
PASOK: 33 seats (12.89%)
ALEC: 20 seats (7.52%)
Golden Dawn: 18 seats (6.92%)
DIMAR: 17 seats (6.25%)
KKE: 12 seats (4.5%)
Only ND and SYRIZA recorded gains, with other parties losing seats compared to the inconclusive one in May. ND and SYRIZA made gains from the loss in seats of the smaller parties in their spectrum, like ALEC and KKE respectively.
The Greek parliament has 300 seats. In between ND and PASOK, which are firmly committed to the Troika (EU, ECB, IMF) restructuring and bailout plans, they have 162 seats- a working, though slim, majority that is better than the 149 they posted previously. It is also possible to try and woo over people from the other parties, though it’ll be difficult as they have defined themselves in opposition to the bailouts. DIMAR and ALEC could possibly be sources of breakaways, but I’m not entirely sure to be honest. At any rate the ND leader is much more confident this time around. There was about 39% abstention, about the same as the elections in May.
Now what’s the significance of this? The big players in the EU are taking a sigh of relief- a cautious one though- and trumpeting ND’s narrow victory as a “vote of confidence” in the EU. Of course though this means that there’ll only be more pain for Greece. SYRIZA’s increase in numbers is a promising sign of growth for a socialist party (unlike the jokers in PASOK), and also indicates that there is disgust with the system. SYRIZA clearly gained at the expense of both PASOK and KKE, the latter in no part due to its inability to match the outreach that SYRIZA has done. KKE’s decline in support however did not result in its elimination, and just barely made the threshold. Golden Dawn also lost some support from its first time around, and that is probably the only thing I welcome from these results!
However, ND and PASOK’s ability to make a government now, unlike last time, was in part due to the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty created by them of the continued instability that only they- and not “radicals” can fix. These coming months will be interesting to say the least- will SYRIZA stand by its commitments, or will it disappoint its followers? Will Greeks continue to protest the attacks on the workers? Of course we’ll get continued attacks by pundits in Europe and the Americas chastising the Greeks for not wanting to tighten their belts, being lazy, wrecking the European economy, and so on (I’m sure you’ve seen these endlessly), but they are merely avoiding the truth of the matter- capitalism is creating misery for Greece, the same force EU once praised for making Greece among the fastest growing economies in the Eurozone…