Greek election: one government please?

New Democracy, the first party and the party with 108/300 seats in Parliament, has already met with the head of the 2nd party, Syriza, the head of the 3rd party, PASOK, and the head of the 7th party, Democratic Left.  These three party heads all rejected ND’s suggestion that they get together and form a government together.  The 4th party, Independent Greeks, has said it won’t even talk to ND about this.  The 5th party, the Communist Party, is completely and utterly the opposite of ND, so there’s no point in asking them.  ND has said it won’t talk to the 6th party, Golden Dawn.  So, as you can imagine, ND is failing to put together a coalition government to get 151 seats in Parliament.

Tomorrow, most likely, the head of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, will attempt to do the same sort of thing.  If he can’t, the head of PASOK will try.

One potential scenario that could lead to a government is if Alexis Tsipras becomes prime minister of a coalition including Syriza, ND, and PASOK.  However, this will not be easy to pull off, considering that Syriza and ND don’t agree on pretty much anything.

If neither the 2nd nor the 3rd party can form a coalition, then the current prime minister, Lucas Papademos, will remain the prime minister, and Greece will vote in an entirely new (not ‘run-off’) election on June 17.

The most likely scenario for the 2nd election is that the parties on the right that did not manage to get 3% on their own to get into Parliament (Action, Creativity Again, and Democratic Alliance), will all get together and enter the election as a single party.  They will then probably get about 7% of the vote, and they will probably then form a government with New Democracy and PASOK, leaving Syriza as the primary opposition party.

We’ll know more once Tsipras has a chance to meet with the PASOK, Democratic Left, Independent Greeks, and so on.

13 thoughts on “Greek election: one government please?

  1. I’m amazed at the differences between Greek elections and those of the U.S. I’ve been reading even though not commenting. I had no idea that you were required, under penalty of imprisonment, to vote in Greece. And, I can’t believe you have to travel if you live away. I can see where poor Greeks could have less power in elections.

    It will be intersting to see how this turns out.
    And, I’m glad you are helping to interpret what we’re watching on BBC America.

    • Tell me about it, Dana!! This is all a learning experience for me. Although I was in Greece for the 2009 election, I didn’t pay nearly as much attention – both because it was pre-crisis, and because it was a pretty standard ND-PASOK matchup. This time around, I’m playing catch-up trying to learn all the rules. There are so many electoral laws, and some of them are infuriating. For example, did you know that if Syriza had come in 1st place, ND STILL would have received the 50 bonus seats!?!? They can’t ever be considered the “first party” – so even if there is a second election and everyone votes for Syriza, ND STILL gets the most seats in Parliament!! If that makes you shake your head, imagine how it makes the voters feel.

      Also note that around 20% of voters voted for parties that are not in Parliament. That’s another 20% of the population that is not represented at all anywhere. And that’s only because of that 3% rule -and WHY is there a 3% rule? Because MY city used to vote overwhelmingly a Muslim pro-Turkey party (calling for our area to be annexed to Turkey), and to keep that party out of the Parliament, they made a rule that a party needs 3% nationally to enter Parliament. That’s why they all vote PASOK – PASOK absorbed that electorate by putting forward Muslim candidates. But because of that rule, 20% of Greeks are not represented.

  2. This is all quite confusing. Your posts give me excellent background for the regular news reports. Thanks for posting (and for keeping the food postings as well – egg pasta dish looks great).

  3. Heidi, your blogs are brilliant. I’ve learnt more from you than any of the media websites. You should get a job as a political commentator.

    • Although the parties on the left do seem willing to work with Syriza. The problem is that the numbers don’t work out. Because ND took 50 extra seats with only 2.5% higher popular vote, we will probably have to vote again. It’s extremely obvious to everybody that the electoral law has to change; Syriza already said today that they want to change it to a simple % – you get 20% vote, you get 20% seats. They’re right, of course; unfortunately it’s extremely difficult to change the law and have it apply now. Basically, it’s impossible. They HAVE to come up with a government under the electoral law that is already in place. So, if we do have another election, it will be on June 17 and we will have plenty of time to see what will happen. My prediction is that some parties will chose to join together, but that ND will not (unless they decide that the rule about joined together parties not getting the bonus doesn’t apply – for now, when parties join together as an electoral group, even if they are the 1st party, they don’t get the 50 extra seats. The 2nd party in that case would get the 50 seats. However this is probably up to some level of interpretation.) If it is clarified that the 50 seats would go to the first party regardless of makeup, ND will join with LAOS to try to pull votes from GD; Independent Greeks will join with Creativity Again, Democratic Alliance, and Action who will agree because Bakogianni and Manos want to be in Parliament; and Syriza will attempt to join with Antarsya, Democratic Left, Communist Party; Communist Party will probably turn them down, maybe Antarsya also. No one will talk to GD or PASOK unless they are desperate. That’s my view for now, but I’ll probably write a post about it in a little while when things clarify a little.

      For now, though, Democratic Left has already agreed to work with Syriza in a coalition. Syriza is in the process of talking to the rest of the parties and should be finished by tomorrow evening.

    • Of course. There is no question that a coalition government of PASOK, ND, and Kouvelis (ex-PASOK Democratic Left) would be a continuation of exactly the same government we had in 2011-2012, despite their expansive rhetoric about respecting the message of the voters. They are not particularly interested in the voters’ message, what they want is to stay in the EU at all costs – Kouvelis actually came out and said that himself.

      Both parties (PASOK and ND) have admitted openly that such a government (i.e., one without Syriza) would be difficult to pull off as legitimate. The problem for them is the one you read at the bottom of the article you posted – a new poll showing that if there were a new election, Syriza would be the first party. IF they can’t come up with a government now, and we go to new elections, the parties involved in such a coalition (i.e. ND, PASOK, Democratic Left) will all lose votes – this is accepted as pretty much unavoidable by everyone. So it is in their best interest to come up with a coalition gov’t now (today, tomorrow), no matter what they have to agree to in order to do so.

  4. Pingback: Greek election: undemocracy in action | homeingreece

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