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Nobody wants early elections in Greece

09 November 2010 / 11:11:33  GRReporter
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Thomas Gerakis is MSc in Sociology, CEO of the marketing research and communication company MARC S.A. He was general manager in other marketing research agencies before founding his own. Marketing, political and media research, formulation and implementation of communication strategies, advisory and crisis management are among his main activities. He talked about the messages of the first round of the local elections in the country with Anastasia Balezdrova.

Mr. Gerakis, would you comment on the result of the first local elections round?

I think the voters sent a wise message to politicians. They expressed their discontent but did not jeopardize the stability of the country. Messages to all parties were sent and they were expressed through the lowest activity we ever had. I believe the results enable all political parties to gain something. The party in power – PASOK – has the right to claim that it is the strongest party in the country and the main opposition party could be rendered successful as the difference with the last year's parliamentary elections is very small. Left parties, especially the communist party, increased their electoral power.

What is the reason for the low voter turnout in your opinion?

In Greece, the turnout is higher than the EU average but we have noted a lower turnout trend in recent years. On the one hand, this is due to the desire of a majority of voters to express their discontent or contempt to political parties. On the other hand, voter lists have not been revised for a long time and they still contain the names of deceased people. Furthermore, although the ballot is binding people know that there will be no penalties if they do not vote and they do not do it. I could say that deliberate non-participation in elections is a vote against the system. This is usual for Greece because voters always assume local elections as an opportunity to send a message to the government.

Have the dilemma that George Papandreou brought before the elections succeeded to rally PASOK’s voters?

Yes, it managed to mobilize them. The poll clearly showed what the percentages of PASOK candidates were before and after the Prime Minister’s statement that if his party loses he probably will demand early elections. They increased significantly. This is due to the difference in votes the polls showed and the votes the independent candidate for Attica’s governor Yannis Dimaras received yesterday. Despite the expectations he failed to qualify for the second round of elections.

New Democracy takes the lead in 7 out of 13 regions in the two major municipalities, Athens and Thessaloniki. However, the Prime Minister said that the results satisfy him and his party enjoys the support of citizens. Is there no contradiction?
I do not think this is controversial. For example, a New Democracy candidate takes the lead in the Ionian Islands, then follows a candidate of PASOK and the third is an independent candidate who, however, belongs politically to the party in power. We could assume that the candidate of PASOK will win the second round. If we look at the data from the arithmetical side, bearing in mind the relativity of the electoral battle and if we try to understand what the current party correlations are, we see that the main opposition party is close to the last year's parliamentary elections result. But when we take into account changes and members disaffiliation, I think the result of New Democracy is positive and helps reduce the difference with the ruling party.

I want to emphasize that the choice was difficult for voters because they faced political dilemmas, which despite seemingly controversial actually overlapped. Nobody in the country, including the Prime Minister, is satisfied with the Memorandum of economic support. Nobody in the country, including opposition parties’ leaders, wanted the country to be disturbed and go bankrupt. From this perspective, voters said ‘yes’ to the one thing and ‘yes’ to the other. It was hard to unify those two things in the common subconsciousness and to express them in the vote. Voters, however, found a way to express their discontent to a lesser or greater extent without affecting the stability of political life.

How do you think the electoral race in Attica will proceed in the second elections round on the coming Sunday?

The result of the vote is ‘open’. Of course, political implications in Greece are made after the first round. Choice criteria could be more local during the second Sunday. The position of other political parties, coalitions and especially of the Communist Party supporters, which, as we said, was strongly supported in this election, will play major role. Nobody knows whom the supporters of Yannis Dimaras will vote for and whether they will vote at all. It is clear that he did not give them any hint. Nobody can foresee the outcome both in Attica and in the three major municipalities of Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki. The first round results do not allow anyone to be confident about the outcome. There are many and various assumptions. A positive scenario for PASOK is to win in 8 regions and New Democracy - in 5. Quite the opposite would be positive for the main opposition party. In all cases, fewer voters are expected and making political conclusions about the power of the parties gets more difficult.

What about the Peloponnese region?

Tags: Local electionsResultsVoter turnoutEconomic crisisPolitics
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