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Greek elections

by talos Sun Oct 4th, 2009 at 04:38:17 AM EST

Greece is holding parliamentary elections, today, Sunday, October 4. I have mentioned some basic facts about the road to the early elections announced by Kostas Karamanlis, the current, though not likely future, prime-minister, in a comment a couple of weeks ago.

The rather subdued electioneering is in full swing now, with both debates (the broad debate with all six europarliamentary parties present and the duel between George Papandreou and Kostas Karamanlis) broadcast already and party candidates and cadres running from tv studio to public gatherings and using everything from spam sms messages to postal brochures to attract attention.

Front-paged by afew

As I have mentioned previously, there seems to be little doubt that the Socialists (PASOK) will emerge as winners. In fact most analysts predict that PASOK will manage to attain a parliamentary majority in most scenarios (in fact the only thing that might prevent that is the Green party scoring more than 3% but that seems like an off-chance right now). But things will remain quite difficult, and even the Socialist's sparse and vague "green" and "worker protection" election promises will prove hard to keep. In fact Karamanlis is running on what appears to be a losing strategy of "we will give you hell, but in the end we'll emerge from the long tunnel", promising bitter medicine and public frugality for at least the next three years. It isn't working and Nea Dimokratia, the conservative party, is heading towards possibly one of it's largest electoral defeats, and will be hard pressed to avoid a record low polling tally (at ~35% currently, from 1981). Yet what Papandreou can realistically promise is constrained too:

Joaquin Almunia, European Union commisioner for economic and monetary affairs, has told both big parties that pre-election promises should not ignore the obligations of Greece under the Lisbon Treaty, which requires strict financial regulation of member states of the Euro zone.

While Almunia and Mrsnik's advocacy of economic liberalisation conflicts with the implicit call for social-friendly policies in GSEE's report, they all confirm the nightmarish scenario that the dynamic of the old economic development model is now exhausted. This was based on cheap international credit, European structural funds, high consumption, and high values for real estate.

So the promises are for now more rhetorical than actual commitments.

Now, IMMHO it seems bizarre that the EU Commission would call for fiscal discipline, deregulation and privatization, after the current mess, which is what Almunia is recommending, but the net result is that either way the economic situation will surely deteriorate - given that banks are not lending and businesses are already closing down. Already the unemployment figures are sky-high (though the definition of who counts as unemployed seems to be shifting steadily), especially among the youth, and part time, precarious work is spreading everywhere - while at the same time the unemployment benefits are a joke (~400 Euros for a very limited time).

Anyway the business community doesn't seem to care who wins as long as someone does: As Deutsche Bank noted:

Pending to know the final outcome of the elections, the possible coalitions and keeping in mind that the two major parties do not have clear differences in policies/programs, the main risk is that Greece could be dragged into a prolonged election process assuming no party manages to win majority and form a government

Yesterday, five insurance companies were shut down, exposing some rather serious regulatory omissions over the past few years.

On the left side of the political spectrum (and I repeat that I am helping along with SYRIZA's campaign so I am not really impartial), KKE is expected to score its standard 7,5-8,5 % (more or less), while SYRIZA, having failed miserably to maintain anything from its impressive poll ride that reached 18% a year and a half ago), almost managed to commit electoral suicide through bickering and infighting so irrational IMHO, that it had people questioning whether the party's core 3% would show up on election day. The latest opinion polls predict the party's survival (an electoral coalition that is quite a lot like Bloco Esquerda, mentioned in Torres' Portugese election thread, only, if anything, even more diverse). But it could be tight. The Greens will most probably not make it past the 3% electoral limit.

Opinion polls are not allowed to be made public 15 days prior to the elections so we don't know what the polls will come up with exactly. But as I said I don't think PASOK can lose, though I'm not certain about the margin and the outright parliamentary majority (somewhere between 15-25% of the electorate, depending on the poll, either don't answer, won't vote, or haven't made up their minds about who they'll vote for). We'll have to wait and see...

SYRIZA, having failed miserably to maintain anything from its impressive poll ride that reached 18% a year and a half ago), almost managed to commit electoral suicide through bickering and infighting so irrational IMHO, that it had people questioning whether the party's core 3% would show up on election day.

Could you be specific about this bickering?

Also, how did the far-right do in the last polls? (Asking from a country where current polls expect the next parliament to include only three parties, the two big ones and an outright fascist party with double digits.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Sep 25th, 2009 at 12:26:26 PM EST
Well here's the story, in probably boring detail :-):
SYRIZA is the electoral block that is participating in the elections, a coalition of leftist groups that has managed over the past 5 years to inspire both a significant number of young people and a lot of disillusioned veterans. Politically it is like a marriage between the Front de Gauche and NPA, with the participation of Green party members...

SYRIZA is composed of 11 component parties plus many unaffiliated leftists participating locally and nationally in the alliance. This alliance is very diverse: it includes trotskyites, maoists, post-communists, post-eurocommunists (left and right), social democrats, socialists, greens, ecosocialists, libertarian communists etc. Of these one, Synaspismos (Coalition of the Left), is dominant in terms of both electoral power (it was the only component that had parliamentary representation) and membership: it has nearly 17000 members while the next largest component party is at a tenth of that and the smallest have memberships of a few tens. This makes representation lopsided: one could argue that the rest of the component parties were nothing but an electoral coalition around Synaspismos.

After the not impressive performance of SYRIZA in the European elections, this was challenged by the rest of the Component parties. They said that the default leadeship of SYRIZA could no longer be the leaders of Synaspismos. They rallied around the popular (and generally respected)figure of Alekos Alavanos, former leader of Synaspismos who had facilitated the transition of leadership of the party to Alexis Tsipras, a thirty-something civil engineer, that headed the left's successful municipal organization in the City Council (more on point 5, here). Alavanos, in what was generally portrayed as a political filicide, stood up against Tsipras and demanded that he and not Tsipras lead the coalition during the next election (the current one). In this he was backed by all of the other components outside of Synaspismos. This was refused by Synaspismos and for a moment SYRIZA was on the brink of dissolution. The moment unfortunately was right after Karamanlis called for snap elections. Thus after a summer of self-flaggelation for not managing to increase its European vote enough, SYRIZA further lost credibility by not being able to pull itself together even during a crisis. (The European elections is possibly the toughest challenge for SYRIZA's unity, as Synaspismos is generally various shades of pro-EU, and most of the other components are Eurosceptic).

This split however was due to a more important political one: Synaspismos itself is composed of many political tendencies but it is characterized by one major split: the moderate social democrats vs. the harder left. During a time of crisis this split had many opportunities to demonstrate itself: from the events of this past December, to the turmoil in Greek universities and the focus on local movements at the expense of central political alliances and manoeuvres etc. SYRIZA being a move to the left for Synaspismos, it is no wonder that the rest of the component parties of SYRIZA, have little tolerance for Synaspismos right wing, especially because it has a much better access to media than any other part of SYRIZA and because it is seen as undermining SYRIZA, on every occasion, by publicly criticizing the coalition. It seems probable that Alavanos' moves were meant to precipitate a split inside Synaspismos...

The deadlock was broken when Tsipras announced that he would not be heading SYRIZA, that SYRIZA's representation would be collective, and the new parliamentary ream will vote for its leader after the elections.

So if SYRIZA manages to gather more than 4% of the vote, everyone will be happy enough. If it falls under 3% and loses its parliamentary representation I think SYRIZA will disolve into its constituent parts. It seems that the first scenario is more likely than the second for the time being...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Sep 25th, 2009 at 06:06:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The far-right LAOS, started from around 7% early this month, but now it seems that they will remain around 5%, though I think that people voting for LAOS might be too embarassed to tell the pollsters, so I fear for the worst.

LAOS is a cross between Fini, Berlusconi and Lepen. The scariest part is that they are being supported to a scandalous degree by the private media. Let me give you an example: in May polls political polls were showing that only 2% of voters though that immigration was a major problem, as LAOS pushed the issue to the forefront of its campaign, the media went on anti-immigrant frenzy resulting in an explosive reversal of attitudes, from 18th more important problem in less than 30 days it had shot up to no3 at 18%, behind the crisis and unemployment IIRC. Now it has fallen again to 2%. But LAOS poll numbers which had remained at around 4% for the past two years, followed the anti-immigrant trend and LAOS gathered 7,2% of the vote in the european elections, and set a law and order agenda that was adopted by the conservatives and has resulted in the deterioriation of already disgusting conditions (and public attitudes I should add) for refugees and immigrants. Right now as we speak, nazis (real Nazis with funny salutes and all) are "policing" poor areas of downtown Athens, threatening and beating "illegals" and legals alike, under the unwatchful eye of the police, which seem to view them as some sort of deputy.

I still hope against hope that LAOS might be squeezed below SYRIZA's final percentage, though that seems quite unlikely at this point.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Sep 25th, 2009 at 06:33:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All the predictions I hear (and publishing polls is forbidden 15 days before the election so they are not official, but are probably based on "secret" polls), point to a PASOK victory, by a large margin. Possibly very large (differences >6% have been mentioned).

Things are quiet and cool right now, and though the participation is expected near the historical normal high levels, I can't see much excitement. These are quite elections in which worries weigh far more than hopes.

I'll be around and I'll try to keep you posted about the results, but I'm not certain at this point when and if I'll be near a pc...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Sun Oct 4th, 2009 at 05:08:44 AM EST
6.    Leftist group admits bomb attack ahead of Greek election | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 03.10.2009
A leftist guerrilla group has admitted it detonated a small bomb shortly before a speech by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in Athens on Friday. No one was hurt in the attack which took place ahead of Sunday's election. 

The terrorist group, calling itself Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, posted a message online saying that the bomb was intended to "send a message" to Greek authorities.

The statement said the group had infiltrated crowds of supporters of the Prime Minister's New Democracy party headed for the rally, a "stupid mass reminiscent of a zombie movie," and had placed the bomb and slipped away without being spotted by the handful of police stationed nearby.

by Fran on Sun Oct 4th, 2009 at 08:27:17 AM EST
BBC NEWS | Europe | Greeks voting for new government

The people of Greece are voting in a snap general election that is likely to see the ruling Conservatives lose their grip on power.

Opinion polls put the opposition Socialists led by George Papandreou ahead of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' New Democracy party.

Mr Karamanlis was only half way into his four-year term when he called the election in early September.

by Fran on Sun Oct 4th, 2009 at 08:29:24 AM EST
France 24 | Greeks vote in snap election after crisis-hit year | France 24
Opinion polls show the socialist opposition in the lead as Greeks vote Sunday in a snap election called by PM Costas Karamanlis (photo) following a tough year for a country battered by the economic crisis, riots and corruption scandals.

AFP - Greeks began voting Sunday in a snap election in which the opposition socialists were tipped to ride into power on a wave of anxiety over the country's looming economic crisis.
Led by former foreign minister George Papandreou, son of late prime minister Andreas Papandreou, the socialist PASOK party held a lead of 5-7 points over the ruling conservatives in the final opinion polls published two weeks ago.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis called the snap election halfway through his four-year term with his New Democracy party, stung and distracted by corruption scandals, finding it increasing difficult to govern as the country faces a dire economic crisis.

by Fran on Sun Oct 4th, 2009 at 08:30:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Socialists claim Greek poll win

Greece's opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) has claimed victory in the country's snap election.

Exit polls suggest Pasok has secured between 41% and 44% of the vote and will have a parliamentary majority.

The ruling conservative New Democracy, party, led by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has between 34% and 37%, the polls suggest.

Official results from the election are not expected to be announced for several hours.

by Fran on Sun Oct 4th, 2009 at 12:24:49 PM EST
The Socialists have won definitively (~44%)and the conservatives have just had their worst result ever after the restoration of democracy in 1974 (~33.5%). The left struggled: if one counts the diverse people under the Green party it managed a slight, impreceptible increase. The extreme right is now the fourth party in the parliament.

The former prime minister announced his intention to lead his party very soon to a conference in which he will not ask for a new mandate as a party leader. The road is open to the heiress of the third political family in Greece: the Mitsotakis clan. His daughter, Dora Bakoyannis, until recently foreign minister, is favored to win the presidency of Nea Dimokratia, the conservative party.

Official Election Results in English for the Minsitry of the Interior...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Sun Oct 4th, 2009 at 07:36:29 PM EST
Thanks and congratulations!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Oct 4th, 2009 at 09:10:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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