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Elections in Greece

by eurogreen Mon Jul 8th, 2019 at 12:22:00 PM EST

A general election took place in Greece, yesterday 7th July 2019. I will make a few comments, as nobody else has done so. Please note that I have no particular knowledge of politics in Greece, other than through my attachment to the DiEM25 movement. So this will be a somewhat ignorant and partisan little diary. The headline is "Conservative landslide", because the New Democracy party won a majority (158 of 300 seats)...
But in a normal European democracy, the news today would be all about the difficulty of cobbling together a left-of-centre government...

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Greece uses a hybrid system, whereby the leading party gets a bonus of 50 seats. Let's see how the results stack up without that bonus :

PartyPercentage Seats
New Democracy 39.9 108
EL (Greek Solution) 3.7 10
Total right 43.6 118
SYRIZA 31.5 86
KINAL (Pasok+) 8.1 22
KKE (Communists) 5.3 15
MERA (Diem25) 3.4 9
Total "left" 47.2 132
There are reasons to be relatively cheerful :
  • Golden Dawn, the fascists, got less than 3% and so have zero MPs (18 previously), albeit replaced by hard-right EL
  • The centrists, formerly 9 seats, have also bitten the dust
  • MERA25, led by Yanis Varoufakis, broke through, after narrowly missing the 3% threshold in the European elections last month.
But of course, of the four "left of centre" parties, probably no two are capable of working together...
The future is sure to be entertaining, seen from outside. Less so for the long-suffering population of Greece, of course.

Facebook - Another angry voice - Greek Election Results

The Greek election results are in, and despite a few silver linings, the result is dispiriting for anyone who considers themselves either socially or economically progressive.

The Greek conservatives won the biggest share of the vote with 39.8%, and thanks to the ridiculous nature of the Greek electoral system they get a bonus 50 seats in parliament by virtue of finishing first, meaning 2 in five votes was enough to win them a clear majority in the parliament.

Without the 50 bonus seats, they would obviously still won the most seats, but they would have fallen well short of a majority, meaning they would have needed to form a national unity government with Syriza, or sought the support of at least three of the minor parties that finished between 3rd and 6th.......

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 8th, 2019 at 01:44:46 PM EST
Not more ridiculous than the French 2-round FPTP system, where a bit over 32% of the vote in the first round resulted into an absolute majority of seats (350 out of 577) for Macron and his La République en Marche (LREM) party.
by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Jul 9th, 2019 at 08:21:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most countries with PR systems have mechanisms to favour larger parties somewhat, allegedly to discourage a splintering of parties and make it somewhat easier to forge a governing coalition.

Those mechanisms can include excluding parties which don't achieve a minimum threshold of the vote - 3% in the case of Greece, to having top two run-offs in a second round of voting. In Ireland's case the average size of a constituency is 4 seats, which requires a 20% of the vote +1 quota in any one constituency to be sure of getting a seat.

However the single transferable vote mechanism means that often parties with say, 10% of the first preference votes, can gain the last seat if they can edge up towards the 20% mark by gaining transfers from smaller parties and candidates as they are eliminated. Thus at the last election there were a plethora of smaller parties and independents gaining seats in particular constituencies. Nevertheless Fine Gael, the largest party, got 32% of the seats with 25% of the first preference vote.

Giving a bonus of 50 seats to the largest party, as in the case of Greece, seems a bit extreme, however, specially if there isn't much of a difference in size between the two largest parties.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 10th, 2019 at 12:40:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great to see MERA (Diem25) getting a look in, and Yannis Varoufakis back to create a little mayhem with his economically orthodox but politically "beyond the pale" policies. Like you, I am no expert on Greece, but from what little I hear things have been improving slowly off a very low base, with growth of 1.4% in 2017 and 1.9% in 2018 following a 30% decline in the years 2008-13 and stagnation thereafter.

Hopefully the conservatives won't be able to completely sell off all public assets and destroy all public services in their time in office. It would be ironic, but typical, if Syriza were turfed out just as the economy had turned the corner and New Democracy claimed all the credit despite putting that recovery at risk with unnecessary austerity policies.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 8th, 2019 at 02:27:24 PM EST
According to Trading Economics, Greece GDP took another hit in 2015, and at lowest in 2016 was a mere 54% of 2008. The growth in 2017 and 2018 brings it up to 66% of 2008. Oh, and debt/GDP is still stuck at 180%, so the crisis may restart as soon as loans need to be rolled over and the Council and ECB wants to.
by fjallstrom on Mon Jul 8th, 2019 at 09:14:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was relying on Wiki which also states that Greece's national debt was reduced from 172% of nominal GDP in 2011 to 137% of GDP in the first quarter of 2012 following the biggest debt re-structuring in history since when it has crept back up to 182% due to the decline in GDP and interest paid to creditors who have made a killing since.

On the plus side, modest GDP growth has returned, interest rates on new borrowing have declined to almost 2%, and a degree of political stability seems to have returned with Syriza achieving 31.5% of the vote despite having to lead the country through the worst of it. Of course a lot of irreversible damage will have been done to personal lives and institutions in the meantime and any improvements will be modest indeed, even under benign economic scenarios.

My concern is that there have been a number of instances where neo-liberal parties, beginning Reagan,  have come to power on the back of a major recession just as the incumbent leftist/centrist parties in power have turned the corner. The neo-liberals have then made the situations much worse with needless austerity policies, only to take the credit when the economy rebounded some years later - just in time for the next election.

Trump has taken the opposite approach, needlessly boosting an already growing economy with tax cuts for corporates and the rich and taking the credit for a boom that was already happening anyway - while in the meantime greatly boosting borrowing Republicans had previously castigated Democrats for.

So we have two myths being propagated:

  1. Austerity helps economies recover, and
  2. It is the job of centrists/leftists to curb borrowing which neo-liberals can then boost to fund tax cuts for the rich and generate short term booms to their electoral advantage.

Part of the decline of the left is that they have allowed themselves to be brow beaten by the money markets/deficit scolds into curbing borrowing, and thereby slowing recovery, allowing the right to take power and letting borrowing rip despite this leading to the crash of 2008 for which the right, in most countries, seem to have miraculously managed to escape responsibility - at least after a short period in opposition.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 9th, 2019 at 10:47:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EL appears to be basically a continuation of LAOS, without the baggage of the old name. It is founded by a former LAOS MP, and LAOS has joined the new party.

With that the right side of Greek politics appears to be back to the pre-crisis setup, a dominant ND and a small LAOS. The honest fascist are again out, and the economic nationalists in ANEL didn't even run.

On the left, things are more different. Syriza and Pasok has switched places (and Pasok has a new name) and MERA25 are in as a new player. But still, not that different from pre-crisis, except Syriza gets to shame Pasok as splitters.

by fjallstrom on Mon Jul 8th, 2019 at 08:58:13 PM EST
Yanis Varoufakis: How Syriza's capitulations allowed the Greek right to escape the dustbin of history

The Greek right is back: greedier, uglier and more focused than ever. The incoming New Democracy government is determined to reclaim full control of the state on behalf of the most parasitic segment of Greece's oligarchy and, of course, of our country's ruthless creditors.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the new prime minister, is a scion of one of the dynasties responsible for Greece's perpetual bankruptcy, corruption and subservience to the Atlanticist oligarchy-without-borders. Tellingly, he has surrounded himself with, on one side, apparatchiks connected to vulture funds and failed banks and, on the other, ultra-nationalist former fascists [...]

The moment I walked into the office of Alexis Tsipras, he told me he had decided to fold, to ignore the people's No, and to side with New Democracy in order to pass through parliament the bills by which Greece would, again, surrender to the troika. After I failed to dissuade him, I resigned as minister of finance. A few hours later, Mr Tsipras convened a meeting with the acting leader of New Democracy, and the leaders of the other pro-troika parties, whose votes he needed in parliament to pass the third bailout. It was at that moment that New Democracy was retrieved from history's dustbin and placed on a track leading, with mathematical precision, to election victory.

Since that night, Greece's parliament has been the stage for a four-year long tragicomedy: Syriza MPs passed austerity and fire-sale bills with which they disagreed, while, on the other side, New Democracy MPs voted them down -- in spite of agreeing with them. How my former colleagues convinced themselves that this would end in anything other than a devastating defeat for Syriza is beyond my comprehension.

by das monde on Wed Jul 17th, 2019 at 12:32:41 PM EST

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