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Greek Election 2012 Insight by Burson-Marsteller Document Transcript
In elections on 6 May the people of Greece gave a stunning rebuff to the two mainstream political parties and turned to the radical left and extreme right in an election that has highlighted discontent in the country with punishing austerity measures. The Socialists (PASOK, who had previously been the largest party in the Greek Parliament) finished third on just 13.2%, behind radical left-wing party SYRIZA (16.8%) and the centre-right New Democracy (ND - 18.9%). Together, PASOK and ND, the mainstays of Greek politics, won less than a third of the vote - a historic low. In the previous elections in 2009, they won the votes of more than three-quarters of voters. Two new parties from the right and left - ANEL and DIMAR respectively - entered Parliament, and the Communists (KKE) increased their score. Most shockingly, the extremist Golden Dawn party scored nearly seven per cent. Nearly 20% of votes went to parties that did not reach the three per cent threshold for entering Parliament. The composition of the assembly mean that it will be extremely difficult to form a government: ND has already failed, and SYRIZA has now been given a small window to seek to form a coalition. It seems likely that there will be new elections. The results have plunged Greece - and the eurozone - into fresh turmoil. passed to SYRIZA (which, on 9 May, is halfway through the three- day period it is granted to find partners). There is an increasing likelihood of fresh elections on 17 June.These elections mark the end of the de facto two-party systemthat has reigned since 1974. The two traditionally main parties,New Democracy (ND, centre-right) and PASOK (centre-left), sawtheir share of the vote drop dramatically. The electorate seems to For the first time since the restoration of democracy in 1974,have punished the two parties for their support of tough austerity seven parties will form the Parliament. Other parties won nearlymeasures agreed with Greece’s international creditors. one-fifth of the vote, but failed to overcome the three per cent threshold for entry into Parliament. New Democracy (ND), as the leading party, won a bonus of 50 seats, with the remaining 250 allocated proportionately. This electoral law is designed to allowThese elections had the shortest election campaign in modern the formation of a government by a single party gaining aroundGreek history. Although it had been decided in December to 40% of the vote. Given the support for parties that failed to enterdelay elections until at least late April (to allow the technocratic Parliament, it was theoretically possible to form a governmentgovernment to pass austerity measures), the official date was not with 35-37% - but no single party won more than 19%.announced until 11 April. This left parties with less than fourweeks to persuade voters. Against the backdrop of austeritymeasures and the spectre of the country’s bankruptcy, campaignswere run on whether parties were for the bailout and reform Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA): led by Alexis Tsipras, thisprogramme (’memorandum parties’, referring to the agreements coalition of several left-wing political parties is pro-European butbetween Greece and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and anti-memorandum - a stance that seems to have won the favor ofthe European Union) or against (’anti-memorandum parties’). many voters, who were unhappy with the Socialists (PASOK). It is the only left-wing party that has openly proposed a left-wing coalition government. SYRIZA has quadrupled its share of the vote in comparison to the 2009 parliamentary elections.The short, single-issue campaign resulted in radicalisation:disaffected ND and PASOK voters deserted these once-dominant Golden Dawn: This extreme-right party has links to neo-fascistparties who had formed a unity government and accepted the movements around the world. This is the first time it won enoughunpopular terms and austerity of the second bail-out. Support for votes to enter the Parliament, with an impressive 21 seats. Thethese parties fell to its lowest level since 1974, when Greece result can be attributed to increasing security concerns and anti-emerged from a seven-year dictatorship. immigration sentiments that are prevalent among many citizens.Smaller parties benefitted: in an overwhelming ‘anti- Independent Greeks (ANEL): Founded less than two monthsmemorandum’ vote, the biggest winner was the Coalition of the ago by an ousted ND MP, Panos Kammenos, this right-wing, antiRadical Left (SYRIZA), which finished second, winning 52 seats in -memorandum party focused on the preservation of nationalthe Greek Parliament. The extreme-right Golden Dawn (which sovereignty and attracted conservative voters from ND and LAOS.denies being neo-Nazi, insisting it is nationalist and patriotic) won Democratic Left (DIMAR): Founded by dissident SYRIZA MPs,21 seats; the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) won 33 seats later joined by disaffected members of PASOK, DIMAR representsin their first election. The radical right-wing Popular Orthodox a milder left-wing approach than SYRIZA and wants to play aRally (LAOS) was punished for its brief participation in the three- constructive role in the governance of the country. Led by Fotisparty caretaker government led by Lucas Papademos, and saw its Kouvelis, it opposed welfare cuts and the deregulation in thevote shrink below the three per cent needed to enter Parliament. labour market while advocating that Greece stay in the euro (withThe results highlight the anger and despair of the Greek people, a renegotiated economic adjustment and growth programme).who called for a drastic change in the political landscape and Communists (KKE): the KKE played a key part in recent anti-disengagement from the bailout agreement with the IMF and EU. austerity protests in Athens and was hoping for an increase on itsNo party won enough votes to form a government. ND already previous score of 7.5% (it actually achieved an increase of lessstated that it could not form a coalition, and so the baton was than one percentage point, and lost its leadership of the radical
Parliamentary elections Several other parties did not win enough support to enter Votes Parliament, including the Green Ecologists, a pro-euro party that is represented in the European Parliament, and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), a right-wing party that withdrew its support from the coalition at the time of the second bailout programme. Other liberal, right-wing parties in favour of the memorandum and structural changes also failed to enter Parliament, including Democratic Alliance (DISY), led by a former ND MP and former foreign minister, Dora Bakoyannis, Drasi (Action), led by a well-known liberal politician, Stefanos Manos, and Recreate Greece, a newly-formed party of non- professional politicians, who managed to achieve 2.15% in their first elections. Composition of Parliament On Monday 7 May the President of Greece gave Antonis Samaras, the leader of New Democracy (ND), a mandate to lead talks to form a government. Despite having a three-day window to negotiate with other parties, Mr Samaras said on the same day that he was unable to form a government. The baton has now been passed to Alexis Tsipras, the leader of SYRIZA. He has already rejected calls from ND and PASOK for a so-called ‘national salvation government’ and will instead seek the support of other Left parties, such as DIMAR. While DIMAR’s leader, Fotis Kouvelis, seems positively disposed towards this idea, it is unlikely to see the light of day as the Communists (KKE) have said that they will not participate in any coalition government. Given the fragmentation of the Greek Parliament, it is very likely that fresh elections will follow. If SYRIZA or PASOK (which is next Key facts from an extraordinary election in line) fail to form a government, Parliament will convene on 17 32 political groupings participated in the election May to appoint a transitional government to lead the country to Turnout was 65.1%, down from 70-75% up to 2009 new elections within one month. PASOK scored only a third of their usual vote (13.18% in A second election will show whether the results of 6 May were a 2012, compared to around 40% up to 2009) The vote for New Democracy (ND) halved from around 35-45% conscious choice of the Greek public or whether emotions pre-2009 to just 18.85% in 2012 controlled voters’ choices. Ahead of new elections, parties are set PASOK and ND had previously won around 75-80% of the vote; to take the time to form alliances in an effort to improve the in 2012, they won less than a third of votes chances of forming a government. Mr Tsipras is set to approach Nearly 20% of votes went to parties that failed to enter other left-wing parties, as well as the Greens, with the aim of Parliament potentially joining forces. ND and PASOK will also come under 44.5% of 18-24-year olds voted for SYRIZA, Golden Dawn or increased pressure - not least internationally - to cooperate and ANEL 40% of the voters made their choice in the last three days to form a grand coalition in favour of the memorandum. of the campaign; 20% made a decision on polling day International creditors - and EU leaders - will be looking to this The inability of the three liberal parties to join forces prospect as the best way of shoring up support for the euro and before the election left them all outside Parliament for the bailout measures. However, the people of Greece have made a clear statement that they are deeply unhappy with the current austerity measures that are the price of keeping Greece inleft). It has been a consistent advocate of withdrawal from the EU. the eurozone. Greeks may look to the election of François Hollande as President of France as a positive step in turning back the tide of austerityNew Democracy (ND): the main conservative centre-right party, and an opportunity to persuade the German government -it has been led by Antonis Samaras since 2009. Despite winning popularly perceived as the instigator of the harsh economicthe most votes, ND saw its share decline to unprecedented lows. conditions in Greece - to change course, or at least to modify it.Mr Samaras had insisted on the need for elections as soon as However, the signals from Berlin are that the Greek reforms are topossible and for an “autonomous New Democracy government”, continue. If Sunday’s vote is confirmed in new elections, therejecting pre-election agreements with other parties. prospect of Greece leaving the eurozone may becomePan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK): the main centre-left increasingly real.party, it was led into this election by Evangelos Venizelos, aformer finance minister. PASOK carried the ‘political cost’ of the Original text by the team at Advocate/Burson-Marsteller, Burson-austerity measures implemented during its time in government. Marsteller’s affiliate in Greece. Visit www.advocate-bm.gr