Monday, May 7, 2012

ND and Pasok dominance dealt 'fatal blow'

by George Gilson
6 May 2012

The Greek electorate dealt a fatal blow to the decades-old hegemony of the two parties, Pasok and New Democracy, that approved the harsh EU-IMF bailout memorandum.
New Democracy placed first as expected, but its 19.18 percent is a far cry for a parliamentary majority, and a steep drop from its 33.5 percent when ND was routed in 2008. Many expected a strong backlash from the centrist, liberal faction of the party, which has criticised leader Antonis Samaras’ strategy.
The results noted are as announced at 9.30 pm, with about a fifth of the votes counted, by the Singular Logic company that is processing the returns.
ND was decimated by its leader’s decision to expel about 20 MPs that voted down the bailout memorandum. The Independent Greeks, an ND splinter party, is garnering 10.5 percent. Party leader Panos Kammenos suggested that MPs may break party lines to form an ant-memorandum coalition, and he alluded to possible leadership challenges in parties.
The astounding success of the Radical Left Coalition (Syriza), which is poised with 16.5 percent, to become the main opposition, is the greatest upset of the election. That guarantees party leader Alexis Tsipras an exploratory mandate, if Samaras fails to form government, to see if he can form a left-wing anti-memorandum government, as he pledged.
The total collapse of Pasok is the most dramatic development in the election, as its 13.6 percent is about 30 percentage points less than its 2009 showing. Only in the 1970s, before the party first came to power, did it record a lower result.
Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos said there was no clear mandate for any single party. He called for a national unity government, comprised of all pro-EU parties, regardless of their position on the harsh fiscal adjustment programme.
Venizelos said that the electorate completely upset the political scene, and he attributed the electoral disaster to the fact that Pasok on its own had to manage the crisis all on its own.
“We embittered the people to protect the future of the nation. History will judge,” Venizelos said after the 9.30pm results. “Let the God of Greece help us!” he proclaimed, declaring that the party must be “reborn”.
Venizelos noted that a Pasok-ND coalition is not feasible, and that a coalition government needs broader participation.
“We are back to where we started in 1974,” Pasok MP Petros Efthimiou told private Mega TV after Venizelos’ statement. 
Parties that are pro-EU but oppose the memorandum include Fotis Kouvelis’ Democratic Left, which is expected to receive about six percent. Panos Kammenos’ anti-memorandum Independent Greeks is not anti-EU per se, but Kammenos says he will not cooperate with the leaders of Pasok and ND, whom he denounces as “traitors”.
The Communist Party (KKE) appeared to gain little support from the crisis, as its 8.5 percent is just a tad higher than the 7.54 percent it received in 2009.
The entry into parliament of the extreme right Golden Dawn party, with a projected seven percent, is one of the most alarming results of the election. That would give the neo-Nazi party about 22 seats in the 300 member legislature.
Three parties appear to be a hair’s breadth from entering parliament. Both right wing Laos and the Ecogreens are projected to receive about 2.9 percent, a sliver shy of the three percent threshold. Dora Bakoyannis’ Democratic Alliance garnered 2.7 percent in the 9:30 pm projections, based on 50 percent of the nationwide count.
Report from the Athens News
7 May 2012

So, it is far from over! 
Jane x

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