Parliamentary Elections in Greece – January 2015: The Outlook

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Introduction

The coalition government of New Democracy and PASOK led by Mssrs. Samaras and Venizelos did not survive the three rounds of voting for the new president of Greek Democracy. As a result, on the 25th January 2015 the people of Greece will vote to elect the members of the Greek Parliament, who in turn will vote for the new President of the country and form a new government.

As we approach this critical date of parliamentary elections, I consider it pertinent to embark on building some scenarios for the results of the elections and what will follow.

There are two major events that will follow the parliamentary elections.

The election of the new president of Greece and the nomination of a new government.

The Greek Parliament has 300 seats.

In the vote for the new president, there will be a maximum of three rounds.

In the first round a majority of 181 votes is required. If this is not attained in the first round, the second round can elect president with 151 votes. Should this not be attained, the third round elects a president with simple majority.

In order to form a government a party or coalition of parties needs to get a minimum of 151 votes in parliament.

At first I will present the political parties who I think will get more than 3% of the vote and secure seats in the parliament.

Following that, I will proceed to build various scenarios. These scenarios are grouped in two groups. The first group refers to the January elections, whereas the second group refers to the potential second elections in March/April.

The outlook is presented as a set of outcomes, ranked by their probability of occurrence.

I conclude the post with some remarks on the tactical and strategic implications of this analysis.

Part II is published as a separate post, and focuses on some aspects of the “coalition formation processes and attitudes”, as well as potential developments following the January elections.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Color Planes 5
Piet Mondrian, Composition with Color Planes 5

The political parties

New Democracy

Orientations: Center-right, Right, Populist-right, Extreme-right

Leader: A. Samaras

Current status: Following two and a half years in government, New Democracy have made the fatal error of trying to cut the umbilical cord with Germany and the IMF too soon. In spite of that, having received many smacks on the face, they continue in my mind to be the favourites of Germany and the IMF. They will most likely not win in the January election, but this does not necessarily mean that they will not eventually govern again.

Outlook: I estimate they will get between 25 and 30 of the national vote and will be the second party after SYRIZA.

SYRIZA

Orientations: Center-right, Center, Center-left, Left, Extreme-left

Leader: A. Tsipras

Current status: SYRIZA was a marginal party of the left in 2008 when the financial crisis started. In the elections of 2012 they got more than 20 % of the vote and all of a sudden they became the opposition leaders. Today they claim the leadership of the country, having attracted many of the PASOK voters who feel betrayed by the current leader Mr. Venizelos. Their leader, Mr. Tsipras has polished his ways and is more moderate in his statements compared to previous years. In terms of policies, SYRIZA want to renegotiate the huge debt of the country. Whether they can do it is another story.

Outlook: They will get between 30 and 35 percent of the national vote and be the first party but they will have less than 150 members of parliament.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray and Blue
Piet Mondrian, Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray and Blue

GOLDEN DAWN

Orientations: Fascists, Extreme-right, Right

Leader: N. Mikhaloliakos

Current status: The Golden Dawn is no longer comamnding percentages around 10%, but they continue to be strong, and over 5%. However, they are isolated by all other political parties and thus they will not be able to influence the outcome of the elections, unless they exceed 5% by a significant margin.

Outlook: They will get between 4 and 6 percent of the national vote.

KKE – Communist Party of Greece

Orientations: Communists

Leader: D. Koutsoumbas

Current status: Nothing is more stable and more predictable in Greek politics than KKE. They follow a solitary road for many years now (since they formed a coalition government with other parties in 1989). No surprises here. They will definitely not support SYRIZA under any circumstances.

Outlook: They will get between 4 and 6 percent of the national vote.

POTAMI

Orientations: Right, Center-right, Center, Center-left

Leader: S. Theodorakis

Current status: This party was formed a few weeks before the European Parliament elections of June 2014. They do not have any political agenda, and this will hurt them in the elections. Being unashamedly opportunistic and branding a nice smile does not get votes in a destroyed country. Many analysts predict that POTAMI will be the third strongest party in the elections, but I seriously doubt this.

Outlook: They will get between 3 and 5 percent of the national vote.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow, and Gray
Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow, and Gray

PASOK

Orientations: Center-right, Center, Center-left

Leader: E. Venizelos

Current status: PASOK is today a party of the past without any future. the formation of a new party by Mr. G. Papandreou was in my view PASOK’s death sentence. PASOK loyalists will vote for Mr. Papandreou. In spite of that, the momentum and the inertia of more than 30 years in politics, will keep them above the 3% mark.

Outlook: They will get between 3 and 5 percent of the national vote.

KDP – Movement of Democratic Citizens

Orientations: Center-right, Center, Center-left

Leader: G. Papandreou

Current status: This party may very well be the joker in the pack of parties. Initially this role was attributed to POTAMI, but now things have changed. G. Papandreou continues to be popular andmay very well take more than 3% of the vote, thus entering the parliament. Initally discarded as a prank, thie move to create a new party may turn all things upside down, especially if KDP win enough votes to be able to influence the formation of a new government.

Outlook: They will get between 3 and 5 percent of the national vote.

ANEL – Independent Greeks

Orientations: Extreme-right, Right, Center-right, Center, Center-left

Leader: P. Kammenos

Current status: This is a party of protest against the “troika” memorandum, but also a party of voters displeased with New Democracy. Basically it is a party of the right. The success or failure of Mr. Kammenos hinges upon his ability to lure the voters of the right to his weakening party.

Outlook: They will get between 2 and 4 percent of the national vote.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red and Blue
Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red and Blue

The scenarios

There are two sets of scenarios. One refers to the parliamentary elections of January 2015. The other to the potential repat elections sometime in late March – early April 2015.

I. Parliamentary elections of January 2015

Scenario 1: SYRIZA win and form a government 

Likelihood: 10%

SYRIZA win in this scenario, but do not have the required 151 seats in parliament. Therefore they will need to form an alliance of some sort with another party. The most likely candidate for this is the party of ANEL, assuming that they will receive more than 3% of the national vote, and that the combined seats are more than 150.

Scenario 2: SYRIZA win but cannot form a government

Likelihood: 80%

SYRIZA win but do not have the required 151 seats and cannot form an alliance with another party.

In this case, the parliamentary elections will be repeated after the election of the president. The earliest date would be the middle of March 2015.

In this scenario SYRIZA will most likely be able to vote in a president of their liking, but failing to form a government the country will go to the polls again and a new government will not be formed until early April 2015.

Scenario 3: New Democracy win and form a government

Likelihood: 1%

In this scenario New Democracy win and they form a coalition with other parties, securing the required 151 seats.

Scenario 4: New Democracy win, but cannot form a government

Likelihood: 9%

New Democracy win but do not have the required 151 seats and cannot form an alliance with another party.

In this case, the parliamentary elections will be repeated after the election of the president. The earliest date would be the middle of March 2015.

In this scenario New Democracy will most likely be able to vote a president of their liking, but failing to form a government the country will go to the polls again and a new government will not be formed until early April 2015.

Piet Mondrian, composition c
Piet Mondrian, composition c

II. Parliamentary elections of March 2015

The second round of elections will be the result of no party being able to form a government after the first round of elections in January 2015.

Scenario 5: SYRIZA win and form a government 

Likelihood: 1%

SYRIZA win in this scenario, but do not have the required 151 seats in parliament. Therefore they will need to form an alliance of some sort with anoth party. The most likely candidate for this is the party of ANEL, assuming that they will receive more than 3% of the national vote, and that the combined seats are more than 150.

Scenario 6: SYRIZA win but cannot form a government

Likelihood: 9%

SYRIZA win but do not have the required 151 seats and cannot form an alliance with another party.

Scenario 7: New Democracy win and form a government

Likelihood: 80%

In this scenario New Democracy win and they form a coalition with other parties, securing the required 151 seats.

Scenario 8: New Democracy win, but cannot form a government

Likelihood: 10%

New Democracy win but do not have the required 151 seats and cannot form an alliance with another party.

Piet Mondrian, Tableau I Lozenge with Four Lines and Gray
Piet Mondrian, Tableau I Lozenge with Four Lines and Gray

Outlook

On the basis of the above, the outlook for the political developments in Greece is as follows. Outcomes are sorted by their likelihood of occurrence, from high to low.

On the basis of the likelihood prercentages I attirbuted to each scenario, the most likely outcome is that SYRIZA will win the January elections, but will not be able to form a government. New Democracy will bounce back and form an alliance with one or more parties, becoming the government. The reasoning behind this scenario has to do with the declining momentum of SYRIZA. As I have already stated above, SYRIZA does not have a cohesive social support. It is an opportunistic aggregate that cannot sustain its momentum over a long period of time. The fact that there are so many other parties competing for the ever so important “middle” stratum of society, is a time bomb in the bowels of SYRIZA. Therefore, should SYRIZA not be able to form a government after the January elections, I predict it is going to deflate, lose its momentum and will be overtaken by New Democracy and the small “center, center-left” parties.

Second most likely outcome is that SYRIZA will win the January election and form an alliance with another party, ANEL and/or KDP, becoming the new government of Greece.  But in terms of probability this outcome has 10%, compared to 64% of Outcome 1.

Outcomes 3 and 4 lead to a third election that is a nightmare outcome, and one of the very good reasons that everyone will try to end the process with the second election.

Piet Mondrian, Broadway Boogie Woogie
Piet Mondrian, Broadway Boogie Woogie

The probability of each outcome is calculated as the product of the probabilities of each of the component scenarios, except in outcome 2, where there is only one scenario.

Outcome 1: Scenario 2 and Scenario 7 (0.80 * 0.80 = 0.64)

SYRIZA win the January elections, but cannot form a government. New Democracy win the second elections and form a government in alliance with one or more other parties. Most likely allies of New Democracy are: POTAMI, PASOK, KDP.

Outcome 2: Scenario 1 (0.10)

SYRIZA win the January elections and form a government in alliance with another party, most likely the ANEL party, although G. Papandreou’s KDP should not be ruled out.

Outcome 3: Scenario 2 and Scenario 8 (0.80 * 0.10 = 0.08)

SYRIZA win the January elections, but cannot form a government. New Democracy win the second elections but cannot form a government. A third election will need to take place.

Outcome 4: Scenario 2 and Scenario 6 (0.80 * 0.09 = 0.072)

SYRIZA win the January elections, but cannot form a government. SYRIZA win the second elections but cannot form a government. A third election will need to take place.

Piet Mondrian, Trafalgar Square
Piet Mondrian, Trafalgar Square

Tactical and strategic implications

Analyses of this sort are done because they highlight some important dynamics that must be taken into account from day one of the process leading to the elections.

I think that the analysis I presented above makes it very clear that if SYRIZA have a chance to form a government, they only have it in the January 2015 election. This means that they better try very hard to form an alliance with one or more parties in order to get the required vote of confidence from 151 members of parliament. Most likely allies of SYRIZA are the party of Mr. Kammenos, ANEL, and the party of MR. Papandreou, KDP. Both of these parties must prove their value in the electoral field.

Mr. Kammenos has been plagued by massive desertions and the polls show him below 3%. I think he will manage to get more than 3% but it will be a big struggle. Even assuming that they will enter parliament, the relationship between SYRIZA and ANEL may very well be a marriage made in hell, as Mr. Kammenos is quite temperamental and unpredictable, while SYRIZA may be unable to tolerate the extreme views of the ANEL party.

This leaves Mr. G. Papandreou as the best bet for SYRIZA to become the new government of Greece. A strong performance of KDP in the polls will legitimize Mr. Papandreou and the power broker and will force the “purists” of SYRIZA to look away while a deal between the two parties is struck. The big prerequisite here is a KDP percentage above 5%. If I am right in this, SYRIZA must be praying for the center and center-left strate of voters to vote for Mr. G. Papandreou.  Having said that, I doubt that SYRIZA have the political maturity to accept Mr. Papandreou as their ally in a new government.

For New Democracy the best tactical moves will be the ones that take votes away from ANEL and KDP, thus weakening the potential SYRIZA allies. The January elections will be a necessary evil, but not the end, because New Democracy will hope that S?YRIZA will fail to form a new government, thus opening the door to the second elections, which will be good for New Democracy. SYRIZA’s failure in January will bring the voters back to New Democracy, and make the smaller center, and center-left parties eager to form an alliance with the real winners, New Democracy. On the other hand, New Democracy will take advantage of the situation to present the new government as an alliance of political forces from a very wide spectrum of the political forces of Greece. This will be the best legitimization of the policies to be followed in the next two years.

There are other potential implications for New Democracy which are explored in Part II.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for the interesting post!
    How come you haven’t considered the winning party to form a coalition with Potami?

    • Thank you for your kind words.
      In outcome 1 (outlook section) I suggest that in the March/April election New Democracy will form an alliance with more than one parties, one of them being POTAMI.
      I also think that SYRIZA and POTAMI do not go together under any circumstances.

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