European Parliament elections and Greece
CHRISTOS LOUTRADISThis was the election where everything seems to have changed, but everything remains the same. The election’s turning point was the triumph of the populist left-wing party SYRIZA of Alexis Tsipras. For a first in the history of modern Greece, a left-wing political party won the elections, even if these elections were for the European Parliament. Tsipras, called for general elections to be held immediately.
However, the fact that ruling party New Democracy and Elia, the government coalition’s smaller partner that consists of PASOK and other center-left organizations, are higher than SYRIZA’s overall percentage, snap elections are off of the table for the time being.
The second turning point of May 25’s elections was the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which is, at this point, the third political power in Greece’s political spectrum.
What is most alarming is Golden Dawn succeeded not only in increasing its electoral power, but overcoming negative publicity due to the developments of the judicial process that involves all the ruling elites of the party. The way the other political parties will deal with the phenomenon of the far-right extremism in Greek society will affect not only the government’s political stability, but more importantly, the social cohesion of Greek society. However, some analysts predict Golden Dawn will alter its political tactics and will become more mainstream in a bid to increase its support base in the austerity-beaten Greek Society. It is interesting that Ilias Kasidiaris of Golden Dawn last week described France’s Marine Le Pen as a “visionary.”
Evagelos Venizelos, vice-president of the government and minister of foreign affairs, has won the bet with the polls. ‘’Elia’’ and PASOK seemed to be at the exit door of the political spectrum. However, 8.1% percent gives them the political creditability not only to stay in government, but to become the leading force for the unification of the center-left.
The ‘’River,’’ the political party of Stavros Theodorakis ,a TV journalist, despite the fact that was presented by some media as the new driving force behind the center-left, did not manage to stay in accordance with the pre-election polls. River did not change from a media product to a political party with an ideology or concrete suggestions to govern the nation.
However, for a nation stricken by the austerity measures and the debt crisis, the election results have sent dual messages to the government and opposition. It is obvious that Antonis Samaras cannot continue with this austerity-obsessed financial policy without an investment plan for the day after. A government reshuffle seems to be the number one priority for Samaras at the moment.
In addition, the 39-year-old opposition leader Tsipras, with the 3.9% lead from New Democracy, has not built a strong momentum of change in Greek society. Without political stigma, a plan and more importantly without serious allies, SYRIZA cannot be a pragmatic alternative, but only a populist left-wing party that fishes at the blurred waters of our collective social depression.