OP / ED: Early elections: How much do they really want them?

OP / ED: Early elections: How much do they really want them?


By Spiros Sideris

There is much talk lately about early elections in Greece. The cause for this debate is the election of the President of the Republic, as on March 2015 expires the term of the current President, Karolos Papoulias. For the election of the new President, a Parliamentary majority of 180 MP’s is required, a number, however, that the PASOK-New Democracy coalition government cannot attain.

The entire opposition calls for action at the polls, while the coalition parties do not want to even speak of elections, for different reasons each.

But how much do they truly want early elections? The fact that they call for them does not necessarily mean that they want them.

The New Democracy is reasonable not to want early elections, since as demonstrated in the euro-elections, as well as the latest polls, they have lost the lead from SYRIZA. A possible defeat in the polls, the extend of which no one can know, will not be manageable by the ND and the first one to pay the price for this defeat will be the late Prime Minister. It does not go unnoticed that from SYRIZA, at certain points during the past, they have spoken of the creation of a committee of inquiry on the country’s entry in the Memorandum, which certainly will not leave the current Prime Minister and New Democracy untouched, with the opposition party considering them accountable for the policies pursued in recent years.

On the other hand, the MPs of the New Democracy, do not under any circumstance want early elections, as for most of them it would mean the end of their political career. The evident resentment of the people against them, causes fear to most ND MPs that it will be reflected negatively in the ballot for them.

PASOK, on its part, in every election see their rates shrinking and the efforts to recast the movement through initiatives like “Elia” did not work as expected. Deputy Prime Minister and President of PASOK Evangelos Venizelos, knows that an electoral defeat would spell his political end, and of course his referral for the scandal of the german submarines, for the time he was Defence minister. The participation of PASOK in the government and Antonis Samaras’ protection to his Vice President blocked the attempts of SYRIZA to refer Mr. Venizelos to a special court.

If the leadership of PASOK is unwilling to go to the polls, the party’s MPs want to avoid them at all cost. The 43.92% in the 2009 elections plummeted to 12.28% in the 2012 elections, to drop even further to 8.02% in the European elections in 2014, under the umbrella of “Elia”. A new drop in the polling percentages of PASOK will be extremelly painful  and of course the majority of the MPs will find themselves without a seat in Parliament.

In SYRIZA, they sleep and wake up with the word election on their lips. Since the day following June 17, 2012 elections, the main opposition party has been calling for early election. That is commonplace in the country’s politics, but how much do they really want them?

The circumstances do not favor the main opposition party. The inexperience of its members, who from the 4.60% in 2009, saw the party rise to 26.89% in 2012, leaves room for thoughts that do not want elections. It’s easy to be in the opposition, but very different to manage a hot potato like the situation right now in Greece. A kinematic political organization such as SYRIZA, did not manage to become organised into a compact mechanism in two years. This fact became apparent in the regional and municipal elections of 2014, where the opposition party, by their own mistakes, lost the opportunity to achieve a clear victory that would have tipped the balance in the political arena.

On the other hand, the diversity that exists within the party creates uncertainty to a conservative audience, such as the Greeks. Alexis Tsipras did not manage to impose himself on SYRIZA as a whole, since the group led by Panagiotis Lafazanis at every opportunity manifests itself, causing cracks to the party’s unity. What would happen if SYRIZA comes to power and there are disagreements? Shall we witness another secession, the favorite pastime of the Left? Time will tell.

In any case, it will take time for SYRIZA to be able to evolve into a party of power. A frivolity might be enough to signal the end of the left movement in Greece. While they are trying and wanting to be PASOK – during the time of its peak – the DNA of SYRIZA’s members has not mutated and remains accusatory and often unrealistic. And this clearly is not helping the objectives they espouse in Koumoundouros.

However, none of the other parties are positively predisposed for early elections either.

The Communist Party has set himself, out of the game of power. It has remained the lone fighter of a bygone era with old-fashioned and outdated slogans and practices. Whether or not there are election, nothing will change for the KKE.

The Independent Greeks on the other hand, are reminiscent of the day after the elections of June 17, 2014 when he got 7.51% of the vote and elected 20 MPs. They currently have 13 MPs, since the rest became independent. The party just managed to cross the threshold of 3% (3.46%) and to elect a single MEP in the elections of 2014. A possible new election, with the dipole SYRIZA – ND dominating the debate, is clear that will find the Independent Greeks without a seat in Parliament. And that is what most polls show. In conclusion, despite clamoring for elections, that is the last thing the party of Panos Kammenos wants.

The Democratic Left of the 6.25% and 17 MPs in 2012, saw their shares plummet in euro-elections and failed to elect even one MEP after receiving only 1.20%. As if that was not enough, the power of their MPs, after the “departures”, has dropped to 10. A new election will basically signal the dissolution of DIMAR, since there are already strong centrifugal forces towards SYRIZA and the possible electoral failure of the party will expedite the developments.

The only parties that may really want elections are the Golden Dawn and the River.

The Golden Dawn, saw their rates, after the persecution of their leadership (8 MPs are in jail pending trial) to increase, and the 6.92% in 2012 became 9.39% in 2014. A new increase in the rates of the far-right party, would be welcomed by the members of the movement, since it will consolidate them in the political scene and would strengthen the argument for political persecution.

The River on their own part eye the possibility of early elections positively, as they would be established as a political force in the Greek Parliament. The newcomer party in the elections of 2014 received 6.6% and was ranked 5th. After the elections they are hoping to create a strong pole towards the center-left and will play an important role in the political process for the formation of a coalition government.

The reality is that Greece needs national understanding, restructuring and a policy change. The current political forces demonstrated that they cannot so far succeed in this. Fear of personal and party survival, however, may be enough to put Greece on the path it so desperately needs.