Greek election results: New Democracy leads, far-left SYRIZA in second, PASOK in third

As French voters celebrate the election of a new president in leftist François Hollande, Greek voters returned a muddier verdict in its own election on Sunday, with returns that show the most fragmented Greek electorate in Greece’s postwar history, as voters have abandoned both of Greece’s two major parties, in a rebuke of the bailout that has resulted in savage budget cuts and a fiercely depressed economy.

As of 11 p.m. Greek time, with 40.53% of the votes tallied, the results are as follows:

The center-right New Democracy (Νέα Δημοκρατία) has won 20.29% of the vote, and will take an estimated 112 seats in the Hellenic parliament. New Democracy had been predicted to take the largest share of the vote, which results in an automatic “bonus” of 50 seats — the remaining 250 seats are apportioned to all parties (with over 3% support) on the basis of proportional representation.

The far-left SYRIZA (the Coalition of the Radical Left — Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς) has won 15.86% of the vote, and will take 49 seats.  SYRIZA has done better than expected, pushing the center-left PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement — Πανελλήνιο Σοσιαλιστικό Κίνημα) into third place with just 13.98%, with a predicted 43 seats.

The anti-austerity center-right Independent Greeks, a splinter group from New Democracy, has won 10.37%, with predicted 32 seats.  KKE (the Greek Communist Party) has won 8.33%, with 25 predicted seats.  The fascist, nationalistic right Golden Dawn party has won 6.85% and will enter parliament with 21 seats, the first time it will be represented in parliament since 1974.

The far-left Democratic Left, itself a splinter group of SYRIZA, has won just 5.99% and is projected to win 18 seats.

With just 2.89%, the populist Orthodox LAOS appeared to have fallen short of the 3% threshold for representation in Greece’s parliament.  The same fate appeared to be in store for the Ecologist Greens, which took just 2.81%.

So what does all of this mean for Greece going forward?

ND/PASOK coalition still appears most likely option. Traditionally, Greece’s politics have been a two-party affair, pitting PASOK against New Democracy.  It is expected, but by no means certain, that PASOK and New Democracy will form a coalition to continue the ‘grand coalition’ that has been in existence since last November, which elevated a technocratic government under current prime minister Lucas Papademos in support of the Greek bailout engineered by the ‘troika’ from the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund.  That ND and PASOK together won, apparently, 155 seats, will allow them to form a very narrow governing coalition, perhaps under ND’s leader, Antonis Samaras.  But those numbers are, of course, subject to revision as the final vote tallies emerge.

Even if ND/PASOK form a governing coalition, it was a devastating election for both parties, which are now both identified as pro-bailout.  The combined total for the two parties of just over 34% of the vote is by far the worst for both since 1974, when Greece emerged from a military dictatorship.  That fully two-thirds of Greek voters rejected the two mainstream, pro-bailout parties demonstrates just how searing the budget cuts and economic turmoil in Greece has now upended its politics as well.  PASOK had only recently elected former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos as its leader — although PASOK saw a small increase in its poll rating thereafter, the election will probably show that appointing the finance minister who pushed through savage budget cuts as the leader of the premier socialist party was not the best idea, and it remains to be seen if Venizelos will remain as leader after falling behind SYRIZA.

SYRIZA’s second-place finish makes it a real player, but demonstrates a missed opportunity for the far left.
SYRIZA’s unprecedentedly strong second-place finish will come at the expense of relatively fewer votes for both of KKE and the Democratic Left.  It appears that, as compared to prior polls, voters began to merge toward SYRIZA at the expense of the Democratic Left, a more moderate splinter group that split from SYRIZA only in 2010 under popular leader Fotis Kouvelis.  Although SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has been a proponent of a left-wing coalition, the Democratic Left and the KKE have been resistant to such a coalition.  Indeed, the total of all three parties, at around 30%, would have been enough for the far left to win the largest number of votes in the election — even if you added just the totals of the more compatible duo of SYRIZA and the Democratic Left, however, it would have been enough to outpace New Democracy and take the 50-seat “bonus,” putting the non-PASOK left in a much better position as the parties invariably now begin to try to form a governing coalition.  Although Tsipras is expected to seek to form a left-wing coalition, it appears unlikely that Greece’s leftist parties will be able to form any such governing coalition.  At just age 38, however, Tsipras will now emerge as the likeliest face of opposition to a massively unpopular bailout, and his party now remains well placed to emerge as a long-term player if PASOK continues to crumble.
Tomorrow, certainly, will be a very interesting day, as the final vote tally becomes clearer.
Follow all of Suffragio’s prior coverage of the Greek election here.

4 thoughts on “Greek election results: New Democracy leads, far-left SYRIZA in second, PASOK in third”

  1. Simply desire to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity to your post is simply excellent and i can suppose you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let me to clutch your RSS feed to keep updated with coming near near post. Thanks 1,000,000 and please keep up the enjoyable work.

  2. There are several ponits here. The fact that SYRIZA is drawing support from the other parties is obvious and does not contradict anything in my argument. I agree as I suggested that a SYRIZA-led government attempting to take Greece out of the euro would collapse hence my theme of uncertainty but there is also the instability that would preceed that (and the EU signals). You also say perhaps an ND-led government might not last very long: well, yes, that was one of my ponits also. I can’t withdraw the sense that Sunday is a key turning-point: you should not underestimate this, I feel look at the signals from Greece’s partners and their sense on this issue as well. And the austerity conditions are very tough independent of the structural reforms, which I agree are largely necessary, but can only have an impact on growth in the long-term distracting attention away from reform models and choices. I see that you hide behind an optomist’s label, but you can’t both imply that Greece has a poor record satisfying the bailout conditions AND that there is no risk to Greece staying in the euro-zone. By biggest fear is of events running out of the control of either the EU or Athens.

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