With the completion of the second round of the regional elections in Greece, the conclusions that are effortlessly exhausted, with the first reading of the results, are the almost universal prevalence of New Democracy, as well as a great abstention, especially in the second round of elections.
However, observing more carefully the behaviour of the voters, I will try to capture those points that, in my opinion, gave the lead to New Democracy both in the European elections and in the regional elections, the defeat of SYRIZA and the change of the political scene, forty days before the conduct of the national elections on 7 July 2019.
How much did New Democracy win by and why?
Traditionally, the right and centre-right represents about 40% of Greek voters, with slight upward or downward differences, enhanced or not by the differing voters. Senior party in this side is New Democracy. At the time of the economic crisis, this power decreased significantly.
The large difference of 9.3 percentage points between ND and SYRIZA in the European elections, where party power can clearly be captured, was recorded by 1.87 million votes for New Democracy. In the previous European elections in 2014, ND had received 1.29 million votes, during a period of SYRIZA’s rise and a great reaction of the public towards the two dominant parties until then, ND and PASOK.
In the January 2015 National Elections, ND received 1,72 million votes, while in September it had 1,52 million. If one looks at the numbers either in the European elections or in the national elections, that have a higher participation, ND seems to win between 100 and 580 thousand votes. Does this increase enable ND to believe that it will win the 7 July elections? It remains to be seen.
What, however, worked positively for the accession of ND, is, on the one hand, the anger of the voters towards SYRIZA for its policy and, on the other hand, the great rally of ND supporters, which reached 92%, according to measurements.
One of the important reasons, if not the main reason for the great rallying of New Democracy, was the multiple combinations of executives from the party that took part in the local elections, either with official support or as “rebels”. This fact, that there were many “blue” candidates, has mobilized most of the ND voters. Together with the mobilization of voters by the candidates, who are a lot, in the local elections, they have reached ND’s rallying almost to its highest rate.
Why did SYRIZA lose?
During the memorandum period, no government in Greece spent more than 2 years in power, with the exception of SYRIZA, which closed more than four years. Logically, the deterioration of power and the punitive mood of voters towards the government strengthened the atmosphere against the ruling party.
In an electoral confrontation more relaxed, as it does not elect a government, but it sends out a clear messages to the parties, many voters chose to vote against Syriza or abstain from the election process. This is reflected both in SYRIZA’s rallying in the European elections, that did not exceed 61%, and in the abstinence that exceeded 40%. Combined, both worked negatively against the ruling party, giving it a little over 23%. This, of course, is not entirely negative if one contemplates that SYRIZA had 4.5% before 2012, while in 2015 it lost another 2% with the withdrawal of disagreeing old members of SYRIZA. Thus, the party of Alexis Tsipras seems to consolidate a very good rate for the upcoming elections.
Mistakes and shortcomings of SYRIZA
In SYRIZA’s four years of rule, communication has been and remains its great problem. Simply put, Alexis Tsipras’ administration has not been able to communicate the work it has been producing all this time. A great example is the Prespa Agreement.
Firstly, there was the failure to set up a credible media mechanism for the positive agenda. Secondly, the isolation of Alexis Tsipras and several Ministers from society, and thirdly the entrapment in a scandal that was groundless.
The choice of the SYRIZA executives to target ND and PASOK (KIN.AL) with references to the past and not the future, on the one hand polarized the atmosphere and rallied the two parties together, and on the other, SYRIZA’s vision and program was not communicated to the public. Something they should now do in order to hope that the extend of the defeat of the European elections will not happen again.
The small party base and the dislike in the early years of governance to open up to society, has shown the staff’s insufficiency. At the same time, a small leadership group, highly partisan, left out any capable non-party member who could help with the government’s work. It is no coincidence that the most successful ministers do not come from SYRIZA, such as Christos Spirtzis, Elena Kountoura and others.
The executives’ deficit and delay in the creation of a coalition enlargement policy brought SYRIZA’s overwhelming defeat in the regional elections, which brought about the defeat in the European elections.
The national elections certainly have completely different features than the European and regional elections. It remains for the party staff to properly manage both ND’s victory and SYRIZA’s defeat, so that in the July 7 election Democracy and the citizens will emerge victorious./ibna