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The real winner of elections is SYRIZA

18 June 2012 / 13:06:15  GRReporter
3408 reads

Victoria Mindova

The election campaign in Greece is over and it is time to really get down to work. This is how the week after the second elections, which has broadcast New Democracy as the first political force, can be determined. Analyst Plamen Tonchev commented for GRReporter exclusively how these elections differ from those held in May and what could be expected from the new government.

What is different in the 17 June election results from those of 6 May? How did the attitude of the Greeks change in the second elections?

The elections on 6 May showed a clear fragmentation of the electorate. Then the Greek voters voted mainly to express their protest against the heavy, painful and austerity measures. They voted against the measures shrinking the Greek economy and lowering the Greek standard of living. This was an expected reaction. The result of the elections in May was that seven parties entered parliament, which was unprecedented in Greece for the past 38 years. After the 17 June elections, the composition of parliament is the same. The same parties, which had seats in the national assembly after the May elections, have re-entered parliament, but their power is completely different this time. First, the balance of power has been kept, i.e. New Democracy has ranked first, the radical left SYRIZA is second, but the positions are much more strongly expressed. If New Democracy received about 18% of the vote in the elections a month ago, it got almost 30% in this election race. SYRIZA is second again - it received around 16% on 6 May and this time, it reached about 28%. The result is that the two leading parties received a much stronger mandate, whereas the other five parties in parliament kept approximately the same positions. This is true mainly in terms of quantity.

The political expression in the new parliament is different. The results show that Greek society is more polarized between two alternatives, between two major political election options or that the two major parties - New Democracy and SYRIZA at least tried to present their platforms in this way. New Democracy tried to present its general position in favour of the euro and Greece’s remaining in the euro area. This is quite relative, because their platform is much more complex. SYRIZA tried to present its platform as an alternative for the Greek citizens against the austerity measures stated in the memorandum of financial assistance and against the lowering of the Greek standard of living. I would repeat that SYRIZA’s platform is much more complex and less definite.

It is already clear the day after the election that people divided their opinion between the two most distinct alternatives. I would say that both alternatives are not very clear and contain an element of populism.

Who do you think is the real winner of these elections - New Democracy, which has received a mandate to form a government or SYRIZA, which has established itself as the second political force in Greece?

I think the winner of these elections, in political rather than quantitative terms, is SYRIZA. Only a few months ago, the radical left had only 4% of the votes of Greek citizens and it has almost 28% at present, which is very impressive in itself.

What are the challenges facing the new government?

New Democracy, in turn, that is the winner of these elections, has a very difficult task and no one could envy it. The right party is expected to form a government, most likely involving partners. It has no majority in parliament and therefore, it will have to work together with PASOK and will eventually turn to the Democratic Left. Even if such a government is formed, the day after tomorrow if not tomorrow, New Democracy will have to start defining very painful measures to achieve around 11 billion euro cuts in public spending, as provided in the second memorandum of financial assistance between Greece and its creditors last spring. The new government will have to also decide in which public enterprises and services to dismiss around 150,000 people in the next two years - something that you know will have a very high social and political price. The government of New Democracy will have to carry out very serious negotiations with creditors and to participate in the Summit on 28 June.

It is clear even now that in the best case scenario, Europeans will not agree to any concessions to Greece except to postpone the implementation of austerity measures stated in this memorandum. At the same time, the radical left is expected to remain in opposition and offer a very fierce public resistance to the policy. Given the pressing and increasingly acute social crisis in Greece with 22% unemployment and more than half of young people under the age of 25 outside the labour market, it is obvious that no government is to be envied.

How long do you think this government will survive?

I can only guess and all are doing it too. I do not want to be a sinister prophet, but there are talks already that if no new elections are held, a new government could probably be expected by the end of the year. This is quite relative and with reserve, because right now, nobody in the world could say what might happen in this country in the coming months.

Tags: PoliticsGreeceElectionsPlamen Tonchev
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