No Deals Ahead

22 May 2023


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Greek Voters Give New Democracy Plurality

Greek voters went to the polls over the weekend, and they gave the right-of-center New Democracy Party a plurality of the seats. The other parties trailed significantly. There will be a few days in which a coalition government can be cobbled together, but none of the biggest parties has any interest in making such a deal that is arithmetically sound. So, it is almost inevitable that Greeks will be going to the polls again in about a month. Because the rules will be different in the second attempt, one expects New Democracy to win an outright majority. 

Just about 61% of eligible voters cast ballots for the 300 seats in the parliament. New Democracy won 41% of the vote and 146 seats, just 5 short of an outright majority. Syriza, which is left-of center and emerged during the euro crisis a few years back, took just 20% of the vote, earning 71 seats. PASOK, the pre-crisis socialist party, picked up some seats to finish third on 41. The Communists got 26 seats, hyper-nationalist Greek Solution will grow from 10 in the last parliament to 16 seats in the new one. MeRA25, a left-wing anti-Brussels party formed in 2018, lost its 9 seats and will not be in the next parliament.

This means the arithmetic requires either New Democracy to be in the coalition, or every other party but New Democracy must join. The Communists and Greek Solution will not work with one another; if one joins a coalition, the other will refuse. That means New Democracy must be part of any ruling coalition. However, New Democracy is so close to an outright majority, that they prefer to hold a second election. The reason is simple. In the second round, the party with a plurality gets an extra 50 seats. If the results are more or less the same, New Democracy will run Greece as it pleases for 4 years.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mistotakis and leader of New Democracy said in a televised exchange, "I can effectively see no way for the current parliament to form a government. That is why I will return the mandate to you this afternoon, so that we can head for new elections . . . as soon as possible, perhaps even on June 25. The country needs a strong and stable government with a four-year mandate and as soon as this is settled the better."

While this journal views matters from farther left than the PM, it is hard to say that New Democracy has performed badly in government. Al Jazeera said, "with the economy growing at 5.9 percent in 2022, and unemployment and inflation falling, opinion polls showed the prime minister steadily ahead in the run-up to the election."

Younger voters were against New Democracy largely because of apparent negligence on the part of the government that may have caused a railway accident that killed 57 people, mostly students. University student Petros Apostolaki said, "I\'m not very happy [with the results] . . . For the past few years, I\'ve seen [the] New Democracy party implementing agendas that have nothing to do with the interests of my generation."

George Tzogopoulos, lecturer at the Democritus University of Thrace, told Al Jazeera that young people were dissatisfied with the political class as a whole. "But what happened is that they didn’t show up and vote, they expressed their anger with demonstrations or through social media [instead]," he said. "This is how New Democracy managed to score such an impressive success."

Whatever the reason, New Democracy is positioned to win decisively in a few weeks. That means more of the same for Greece and its neighbors.

© Copyright 2023 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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