Greece held its second election in as many months on Sunday, with the eyes of the world watching to see if the Greek electorate would continue to stand in the way of implementing the latest EU bailout package worth €130bn. In this special post, Oeshae Morgan analyses the results of the poll and its likely effects on the political situation in Europe.
Greek Parliamentary Elections 2012
On Sunday, new legislative elections were held in order to elect all 300 members to the Greek parliament in accordance with the constitution, after a coalition was unable to be formed in elections last month. The vote was a key moment in determining Greece’s continued membership in the Eurozone.
- New Democracy, conservative party led by Antonis Samaras;
- Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), left-wing group, led by Alexis Tsiparas;
- Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), socialist party led by Evangelos Venizelos;
The Winners? New Democracy: The Greek electorate nominally ruled in favor of remaining with the single currency, therefore accepting, in part, the implementation of the European bailout and the conditions associated. Syriza also increased its support but was unable to top New Democracy and acquire the 50 extra seats for doing so.
The Golden Dawn Party, a far right party, saw a slight reduction in its votes and seats but it maintained much of its support bettering the Communist Party, despite the recent controversial actions of its party members. Many commentators see the party’s entry into parliament as an indication of the dissention and struggle within Greece today.
Full Results of June 2012 elections
- New Democracy – 29.66%, 129 seats (May 2012: 18.85%, 108 seats)
- Syriza – 26.89%, 71 seats (16.78%, 52 seats)
- Pasok – 12.28%, 33 seats (13.18%, 41 seats)
- Independent Greeks – 7.51%, 20 seats (10.60%, 33 seats)
- Golden Dawn – 6.92%, 18 seats (6.97%, 21 seats)
- Democratic Left – 6.25%, 17 seats (6.11%, 19 seats)
- Communist Party of Greece – 4.50%, 12 seats (8.48%, 26 seats)
THE CHARGE TO THE WINNING PARTY
Greek President Karolos Papoulias has mandated that Samaras form a coalition promptly, given the immediate need for stability. The New Democracy has to compose a coalition government to achieve a working majority, which in theory means securing 150 seats. With these latest results, the two parties obliged by the latest bailout to implement austerity conditions, New Democracy and Pasok, can now claim a majority with 162 seats. However, indications are that Samaras will attempt to bring other parties into the coalition, to reflect the need for national unity. Pasok are very keen for Syriza to be brought into such a coalition, although Tsiparas has made clear that they have no intention of doing so. This raises the prospect of a minority arrangement in which Pasok would support the government and its implementation of the current bailout, but would remain outside of government. Given the six-week deadline, if the New Democracy were to fail to form a coalition, the President would need to call new elections within 30 days but this is unlikely. Recent developments suggest that the most likely outcome would be a slimmed-down government of 15 ministers dominated by New Democracy with 2 or 3 Pasok ministers and the potential support of the Democratic Left party in parliament.
THE GERMAN DECISION
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel was notably the first European leader to contact Samaras upon hearing the results of the elections. Chancellor Merkel stated that she would “work on the basis that Greece will meet its European commitments”. In the initial period, the election results seem to have reduced demand for German securities as a refuge from Europe’s debt crisis. Samaras is likely to attempt to push for a renegotiable bailout plan and will attempt to use the volatility caused by Greek political instability as his main argument for why European leaders should accept it.
The elections may prove to be a step forward for Greece; although, there is still growing uncertainty as to whether the situation could improve. Opposition parties who chose not to join the national government coalition led by New Democracy could hinder the government’s progress, whilst the support of those that do join may be dependent on the changing public mood.
The prevailing international opinion is that these most recent elections have put an end to the precarious political situation in Greece over the last months, but that all signs continue to point to an eventual departure of Greece from the Eurozone and the continued instability that will likely follow. For many European leaders, the time that is gained from this reprieve will be used to shore up those economies that are perilously close to conditions in Greece.