Following my earlier post on the January 2015 parliamentary elections in Greece, I would like to add some more thoughts regarding the second elections (March/April 2015) and the political implications for some of the political parties.
First of all, it is quite interesting that as we approach the 25th January, political parties and analysts alike seem to be certain that there will be no second elections. I emphasize this because it seems to me to be the epitomy of shortsightedness and hypocricy.
In order to make it appear that SYRIZA will be able to form a government, all of a sudden they are no longer the bad kids on the block. They could be right in some things, they mean well, and so on. All of these are abstract generalities of no substance, and most important there is no discussion on the political positions of the parties and the interests and concerns of the electorate. Now we are told that the electorate does not want second elections. A few weeks ago we were told that the electorate did not want any elections.
We are told by the Minister of Finance that if SYRIZA gets elected, our creditors will consider giving Greece an extension of two months to wrap up the troika moratorium, provided that Greece asks for it. Today this reads more like a six month extension.
All of a sudden PASOK, POTAMI and ANEL – not the Communist Party, Golden Dawn and New Democracy – are open to discuss cooperation with SYRIZA.
One wonders why PASOK, POTAMI and ANEL are extending a week before the election a hand of cooperation to SYRIZA.
SYRIZA, on the other hand, seem to be fully aware of the fact that their only chance of governing Greece is the 25th January 2015. If they do not get absolute majority alone or with another party they will never govern the country.
It seems to me that this change of attitude and behaviour is not genuine, but a diversion.
The parties are for different reasons appearing as cooperative and supportive of a coalition government including SYRIZA for two basic reasons. The first is that they want to divert attention form some internal developments and the other is that they want to attract more voters, by appearing as cooperative.
Let us consider each of these parties, starting with PASOK.
PASOK faces serious problems. IThe formation of George Papandreou’s new political party will take many votes away from PASOK who already suffered catastrophic results in the Euroelections of 2014. A bad result (below 7%) will have major impact on the party and may lead to its disappearance from mainstream politics. This leads the leadership of Mr. Venizelos to attempt to position PASOK as the guarrantor of a coalition government and even suggest to the voters that in order for a coalition to be strong they must vote for PASOK, so that it becomes the broker of a stable cooperative effort to govern the country. This reminds me of Genscher’s Free Democratic PArty in Germany. The attempt is clear, but in my view it will remain an attempt. PASOK lacks the credibility to become the broker of a coalition government in Greece. Not only that, the position of Mr. Venizelos in the party after the 25th January 2015 is questionable. It is most likely that Mr. Venizelos will step down from the presidency of PASOK.
POTAMI are equally eager to convince the voters that they are so nice and polite guys that they will do whatever it takes to form a coalition government, provided of course that it does not go against their political programme. This opportunism is working in favour of POTAMI as they appeal primarily to undecided voters from the right to the left, who do not want to vote for the two main contenders, New Democracy and SYRIZA.
Something similar is also said by PASOK. We will cooperate, provided that our political programme is respected.
POTAMI threw in yesterday a variance of the coalition position. They said that they may not participate in a SYRIZA-led government, but they will give it a vote of confidence, provided that their conditions will be met.
ANEL, the party led by Mr. Kammenos, is the only one of the three that maintains a steady position. They say that they have major differences with SYRIZA but, they are equally opposed to the memorandum of Greece with the “troika” creditors and threfore will discuss with SYRIZA the formation of a government. Mr. Kammenos is playing a smart game. He knows very well that the only political capital he has is his opposition ot the memorandum and he is trying to cash in on it by piggybagging on SYRIZA’s win. The catch is that in spite of all good intentions, S?YRIZA and ANEL combined will not have enough seats to give the needed vote of confidence to a new government of Greece.
The party of George Papandreou continues to be in the twilight zone between 2% and 3%. If things remain the same, he will not have any seats in the new parliament. But I believe that he will eventually get more than 3% of the national vote. Mr. PApandreou is not very vocal about a coalition with SYRIZA, he is very busy trying to re-establish his reputation as a politicla leader who cares for the people.
I have tried to give some explanations of the recently expressed strong desire by some of the parties to form a coalition government with SYRIZA, following the 25th January elections.
As a similar positive turn has occured amaong political analysts and journalists, I can only say that they relaised that scaremongering is not going to have an effect and decided to “keep their enemy closer than their friend”.
Interestingly, they do not discuss the most likely outcome of the elections, which is that we will have a second round of elections following the election of the new president of the Hellenic Republic. But I will not elaborate on this, there is no need. We will soon know what will happen, without the help of the esteemed analysts.
I would like now to rurn to one of the implications of the elections of the 25th January and the failure to form a government, leading to a second round of elections. I think there will be major implications in the party of New Democracy. More specifically, a change in leadership.
All moderate politicla forces inside and outside of Greece will come to the conclusion – if they have not already done so – that the regime of Mr Samaras is over. He did what he could, but his time is over. The damage his policies inflicted on the people is so big that he cannot continue being the leader of the conservative party in Greece. A change is needed at once. Luckily for the conservatives, there are many candidates for the job. As an example, the daughter of ex-prime minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis, Dora Bakoyanni.
She is well educated, experienced in politics, she is moderate in her politics and has a strong following.
I do not want to elaborate further, as the key point I am trying to make is that there will be a change in the New Democracy leadership. Whoever is the new leader, will have a tough job ahead of her/him.
Following the change in leadership, New Democracy will have to work hard to re-build bridges with political forces of the center and form a coalition government. It will not be easy, but as I wrote in my earlier post, I believe it has quite a good chance for it to happen.