May 6 is already two days old. Greek elections were unusually quiet. No impressive rallies – actually no rallies at all by the two (formerly big) political parties. No quarrels in the coffee shops or bus stops. The Greek people have finally agreed on something: politicians (in general – those of PASOK and New Democracy in particular) are not to be trusted and should be taught a lesson. But then who do they vote for? Stability with the “evil they know” or adventure with “the new kid on the block”?
The electoral result is the graphic representation of the people’s confusion and inability to decide. The turn out was impressive at the ballots proving the deep despair and the need to find a way out of the crisis.
Right wing supporters could chose between New Democracy – the largest and oldest right wing party, established by Karamanlis right after the fall of the military dictatorship. Antonis Samaras promised to “renegotiate the latest agreement” but has already sent a letter to the EU governments assuring them that he will apply the austerity measures asked by the “agreement” he promises to renegotiate.
Two more right wing formations – splits from New Democracy- asked for the people’s vote in an “anti-austerity” direction. “Independent Citizens”, led by Mr. Kammenos, a New Democracy MP who left the mother party two months ago, managed to attract a large number of votes while the Greek Orthodox Rally (LAOS) of Mr. Karatzaferis did not reach the 3% threshold and is not in Parliament.
The amazing performance of Golden Dawn – a neo- nazi nationalist party and its leader Mr. Mihaloliakos has been attributed to many factors which we shall look into at another post.
PASOK has paid the price for its shamefully inadequate handling of the crisis as well as for the scandals that have been recently uncovered (former defence Minister and his wife are in jail awaiting charges).
Left wing supporters had a different dilemma: vote for the left but which left? The Communist Party of Greece made it abundantly clear that they do not want to govern unless they gained an overwhelming victory to prove that the people were decidedly on their side. On the other hand, SYRIZA – Coalition of Radical Left, is made up of more than 20 different left wing groups and subjects and its leader, Alexis Tsipras, has just turned 38. To a left wing audience made up of resistance veterans and their families, strict orthodox communists trained to follow orders without arguing, eurocommunists trained to argue to exhaustion about ideology, youth who cut their political teeth with the Social fora and are more activists than politicians SYRIZA seems a fascinating, potential home but without much promise of a safe haven. Tsipras has been characterised as “too young”, “too arrogant”, “too idealistic” but also as a left wing person who practices what he preaches: He was a member of KNE (youth of the Communist Party) before joining SYNASPISMOS (Coalition of the left of movements and ecology) and becoming its Youth Secretary. He is a civil engineer, has recently signed a civil marriage contract with his highschool sweetheart and had a child whom he refused to christen.
Antonis Samaras apprised the State President of his inability to form a government. Alexis Tsipras, the second winner, is at the moment discussing the situation with other political leaders striving for a government in an anti-memorandum pro-growth direction. He has already had a positive reply from Fotis Kouvelis, leader of the Democratic left.