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Greece’s two-party system obituary has been printed long ago

16 November 2010 / 12:11:16  GRReporter
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The political system of none of the countries that had the IMF hurricane has survived in its original form, says Professor Athanasios Diamandopoulos in an interview with Anastasia Balezdrova. "It's difficult to figure out the triumphant look of Antonis Samaras after the elections," the political scientist expressed his surprise, analyzing the local elections results. He graduated from law, political science and philosophy. He is lecturer at the Pandio University and visiting professor at the Institute of Political Sciences in Lille, France. He is a specialist in political parties’ theory, party and electoral systems and in the Greek political life during the 20th century. He has been a contributor to many publications as a political commentator and analyst. Author of many books on government, political parties and contemporary politics in Greece.

Mr. Diamandopoulos, how would you comment on the election result?

Firstly, I would say that there was not only a feeling of dissatisfaction on the part of voters, but also tiredness, abandonment of all hope. It is clear that Greek society has no great expectations of today's political system not only with regard to both parties. One of them, the today ruling PASOK, in an attempt to deal objectively with the very difficult conditions and face established ratios is very natural to have made some mistakes while managing so a complicated situation. New Democracy’s contributions are as follows: firstly, its unsuccessful government until recently and the too unreal and populist nature of the proposals of its today leadership. As part of the Greeks are well prone to easy solutions that delayed and even overturned the spectacular jump down that the party made in the last year's elections. But in no way it helped the party to have a major presence especially in those layers of Greek society, which are of high educational, cultural and financial level and have always been its spine. And it is typical what became clear from the first electoral round. While the traditional rival PASOK has lost 10% of electoral strength, New Democracy not only lost in absolute terms, which could be explained by the high rate of inactivity and the nature of the elections. New Democracy lost in rates. This shows its total inability to benefit from the loss of image by the government.
From this perspective, the two poles of the two-party system were somewhat neglected, although in the second round, which is anyway bipolar, they managed to retain their drops. The ruling party could register a small tolerance of society to its politics and position. But on the other hand, the so-called "parties of opposition" had no good results. The two parties that had decided to move along the edge of the system – the far left LAOS and SYRIZA – also reported dissatisfaction and failed to gain anything from the loss of the two major parties. So, only the Communist Party was left as the pole that attracted not discontent but hopelessness. It was supported by voters who do not to seek any other way out but by those who see no way out and their votes expressed their pain from this. I think basically this is the result of the two electoral rounds: total rejection of the political system and the fact that society has no stored hope.

What do you think are the causes of such high rates of electoral inactivity, which yesterday reached 60 percent?

In my opinion there are several reasons for inactivity. We could say that one of them is the nature of the elections and that we didn’t vote for government, the important issues were not put under question. It is clear here the motive is not sufficient.
Secondly, I would put the new generation’s way of thinking which is very far from politics. I think the vast majority of my son's generation did not vote. And that is because this generation has not been formed in a period of intense politicization, as in the years before and after the military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s, a period of great expectations. This is a generation that has sarcastic perception for politics and attitude of rejection. It is a very individualistic generation that does not expect anything from politics.
Thirdly, I would mention the reduction of political system clientelist reserves. Many of the citizens that joined party initiatives before and especially managerial ones did it to satisfy their own interests. It was a kind of mixing up between the voter and the ruling party, through which people were expecting an appointment in the public sector or private gain. Nowadays, that expectation no longer exists, especially in terms of supervision by international institutions and foreign creditors.   
Fourthly, it is a picture of a society that has no hope at least with regard to the expectations of the political system. And it does not go to vote because of its absence. I would like to mention an example: In all individualistic societies, where attention is not focused on common action, but only on individual development, participation in political life is insignificant. This can be seen very clearly in the political life of the USA, where participation in elections is always poor. Common action there has never been in the foreground. Rather, society has individualistic attitudes. I think we are turning to this. This phenomenon became more prevalent in Greece in recent years, especially under the pressure of the economic crisis.

The Athens and Thessaloniki municipalities did not elect the candidates of New Democracy, as expected. What were the reasons?  

Tags: Election resultsTwo-party systemNew DemocracyDora BakoyannisAntonis Samaras
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