Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Sun May 6th, 2012 at 07:38:20 AM EST
So the elections are underway in Greece, and no one has a clue of the result...
Polls have been very ineffective in gauging public sentiment in these elections and pollsters are much less certain of their numbers than they were in previous elections. This is because a tectonic shift in attitudes has occurred in the Greek electorate, a new social and economic era, driven by the IMF/ECB disaster that has reorganized society creating new alliences, hopes and fears. Plus a huge number of citizens refuse to cooperate with the pollsters anyway.
So we're voting today in Greece without having even a broad idea of the result. There are a few things that are expected, but not certain:
- No party will be able to govern by itself
- The sum of the percentages of the two mainstream parties that have monopolized government will be at a historical low. The conservatives will be less affected than the "socialists", but are expected to suffer serious losses from their 2009 33% result (a historical low at the time as well). The socialists will be celebrating if they only lose half of their 2009 electoral percentage of 44%.
- Given the outrageous 50 seat bonus (in a 300 seat parliament) the two parties (in the worst case scenario with the help of minor parties of the neolib right mostly) are expected to form a government, even a weak government
- The left is expected to reach a historical record. Of the parties of the left SYRIZA, is expected to have the most impressive result
- The "old parties" keep their strength among the elderly.
- A good result for the left would be an inability by pro-austerity forces to form a stable government
- Despite earlier assumptions, participation in these elections will probably be higher, not lower than that in the previous election
Some notes on the parties:
- New Democracy: Conservative. EPP party with a right-wing nationalist at its helm making overtures to the extreme right. They were shoo-ins for winning the elections till they agreed to participate in a coalition government under Papademos and voted for the PSI agreement and the even harsher austerity measures that accompanied it. They did that under extreme pressure from the European right, which certainlt wasn't considering the long-term when they did that. Their pre-election rallies were well beyond par in terms of participation. They will be blissful if the approach or surpass 30%, seem more likely to get 24-27%, will have serious prblems if they fall under 23%. They are losing to their extreme right and to the anti-troika populist right. They will renegotiate the terms of the agreement of course. Despite having signed them off a couple of months ago.
- PASOK. A former socialist party in disgrace. Seen as the architects of austerity. They have had problems organizing rallies arund Greece as very few people showed up expect to boo and denounce them. Still they are possibly string in the 60+ age group. They are losing voters all over the place, mostly, but not solely to the left. Anything over 20% (they had 44% in 2009) will be greeted with relief and joy by Venizelos. Anything under 16% as a disaster, especially if they lose second place as rumoured possible. They are campaigning on a "we will leave the memorandum in 3 years platform". Give them a couple of months and they will become anti-troika to the bone...
- SYRIZA. A party of the European Left (GUE - NGL). They do have a very strong dynamic coming into the elections since they are the only party of the left since the Civil War who has explicitly stated that it is asking for government not just a good showing as opposition putting pressure on the other parties of the left to commit to a left electoral alliance the next day. It is unclear what the current numbers are for SYRIZA (2009, 4,6%) but anything over 13% is a triumph, anything in double digits good, and below that a disaster. Risks succumbing to the Melenchon effect, of inflated expectations causing disappointment as party members seem way too confident of a very strong showing than is reasonable IMHO
- KKE. The stalinist communist party, a league of its own. Very string among the poorest menial workers and a bastion of union activism. It is not interested in joining any government as the problems Greece is having cannot be solved under capitalism. Period. There is pressure from its electoral base, but these guys are not known for their political flexibility. Anything over 11% is a triumph for the party, anything below 9 a defeat (7,5% in 2009)
- LAOS. Far right party with populist tones, xenophobic and reactinary. Originally supported the IMF / troika austerity and took part in the Papademos government but flip-flopped on the PSI issue so many times that it has lost credibility among its voters who are leaving it either for ND, or to its right the Nazi party, Chryssi Avgi. If they enter parliament they will throw a party. If they don't they will disintegrate (2009, 5,6%)
- Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) Nazis. See previous diary. They are strong in cities and among the unemployed youth. They are trying to rebrand as a "Nationalist" party. Their campaign in areas which had suffered Nazi atrocities was not warm. Yet they might pass 6% of the vote. They will be happy to enter parliament however and its likely that they will, thus becoming the first nazi party to enter a European parliament after WWII. (2009, 0.29%)
- Anexartiti Ellines. Populist, anti-troika right. A splinter off ND, that left under Panos Kammenos its leader when New Democracy supported the Papademos government and voted for the second memorandum. String among the impoverished electoral base of the right, has attracted a not insignificant part of the ND cadres and some from PASOK, despite (?) the fact that their leader is a conspiracy theorist and a clown. Will be happy with anything over 9%. Anything lower than 5% will be a defeat.
- Democratic Left: A splinter off of SYRIZA's main party Synaspismos, anti-troika but on a "realist" platform of limited renegotiation of some parts of the memorandum. Started off impressively at opinion polls, reaching 16%, but lack of a clear political identity has resulted in a quick deflation. Might be a partner in any sort of coalition from either the left or the right. Will be very content with anything over 7%, Ok with !5-7%.
- Democratiki Symmakhia (democratic alliance): One of the three (!) small parties vying for the libertarian- neoliberal vote. Headed by Dora bakoyianni former Foreign Minister and daughter of former Prime Minister Kostantinos Mitsotakis, it is a pro-memorandum splinter of ND, that supported PASOK and the troika from day one. They are one of the crutches that the two parties can use if they can't form a government by themselves. If she enters parliament. If she doesn't make it to parliament the party will be annihilated. Has a strong clientilist base in Crete.
- Drasi - Liberal Alliance: Headed by troika interlocutor Stephanos Manos, it is the hard-core neoliberal party. Might win the intra-liberal war, and just might, make it to parliament. In which case Manos might end up as a Prime Minister in a coalition government
- Ecologist - Greens: A European Green party. Decidedly anti memorandum, that could make it to parliament despite the surge of the other left parties. They will be delighted with anything over 4% But making it into Greek parliament for the first time would probably be OK (2,5% 2009). These are IMHO Good Greens like the French, not like the German Greens, and I hope they make it to parliament, not least because they were the only party to respond positively to the propsal for a left government, albeit tentatively.
- ANTARSYA. Anticapitalist left. Think somewhere between Besancenot and LO, but with a former Stalinist part as well. They will probably pass the 1% limit for the first time ever for a grouping of the extreme left in Greece. Anything over 2% would be a triumph though...
Plus an assortment of smaller parties, on both sides of the austerity issue...
For broader context and the possibilities of a strong showing for the left see Costas Douzinas' "Towards a European Spring" originally in the Guardian:
The tectonic plates of Greek society and politics are moving. This is the first time a radical left government is seriously on the cards in Europe. The many thousands who filled Syntagma and the other squares last year were a leaderless movement without party or ommon ideology. Seasoned trade-unionists and militants alongside the first-time dissidents and protesters of the occupations changed the definition of politics. They now have the chance to supplement their version of direct democracy and social solidarity with strong parliamentary representation. The collapse of the bipolar political elite will lead up to six new and splinter parties to Parliament. But the stake of the elections is the long-term redrawing of the political map with the left replacing PASOK. Post-civil war Greece exiled, imprisoned and persecuted the left confining its parties to symbolic and ineffective opposition. This divide is now coming to an end as a multi-color hegemonic bloc combining the defence of life, democracy and independence brings together people who historically found themselves on opposing sides. As the anti-austerity popular feeling turns from the negation of `enough is enough' to a radical governmental proposal, a new democratic model is emerging which can put pressure on the left parties not to miss their rendezvous with history. If May 6 leads to a French socialist President and a strong result for the Greek left, a scent of spring will travel from Paris to Athens. The French and the Greeks are voting not just for their own countries but for the future of Europe.
See also Maria Margaronis' piece in the Nation
Ministry of Interior Results, will be posted here in English
I'll be hitting the streets soon, so I can't promise I'll be updating this thread regularly... Feel free to take the thread over.
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