Monday 26 June 2023

Greece – 'New Democracy' wins outright majority

As expected, the second round of the Greek General Election has resulted in the main party of Greek capitalism, 'New Democracy', winning an outright majority. To the delight of capitalist commentators internationally, the result confirms that the ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis will continue in office as Greek PM without having to count on the votes of any coalition partner.

June 2023 Greek General Election Results (held under different electoral legislation to May 2023):

New Democracy: 40.6% = 158 MPs (May 2023: 40.8% 146 MPs)

Syriza: 17.8% = 48 MPs (May 2023: 20.1% 71 MPs)

Pasok: 11.9% = 32 MPs (May 2023:11.5% 41 MPs)

KKE: 7.7% = 20 MPs (May 2023: 7.2% 26 MPs)

Spartans: 4.6% = 12 MPs (May 2023: did not stand)

Hellenic Solution: 4.4% = 12 MPs (May 2023: 4.5% 16 MPs)

Niki: 3.7% = 10 MPs (May 2023: 2.9% 0 MPs)

Course of Freedom: 3.2% = 8 MPs (May 2023: 2.9% 0 MPs)

MeRA25: 2.5% = 0 MPs (May 2023: 2.6% 0 MPs)

Other Parties 3.5%

Turnout: 52.8% (May 2023: 61.1%)

After New Democracy (ND) fell just short of an overall majority in May’s 'first round' of elections (see article here for analysis of the May result), Mitsotakis opted for an election rerun knowing that it would be held under different electoral legislation that gave additional ‘bonus’ seats to the winning party.

The outcome of this ‘second round’ had already been widely seen as a foregone conclusion, the only questions being by how much ND would further increase their margin of victory over the Syriza opposition, and which of the smaller parties, from left and right, would make it over the 3% threshold required to have any MPs elected.

Voter turnout fell to only a little over 50%, showing just how few Greek voters had faith in any of the politicians' promises after yet more weeks of election broadcasts and empty sloganeering. From those that did vote, there was no further swing towards Mitsotakis but the ex-left Syriza, who betrayed so many workers' hopes when in government, fared even worse than before. The once mighty Pasok failed to pick up many more votes at Syriza's expense, again polling at around 12%.

However, having been let down by parties who claimed to be ‘socialist’, it’s no surprise that some disenchanted Greeks voted for the far-right. Nationalist ‘Hellenic Solution’ again won enough votes to be allocated MPs in Parliament, but they will also now be joined by the religious nationalist ‘Niki’ and by the ‘Spartans’, previously a largely unknown far-right group. The Spartans had been backed from prison by Ilias Kasidaris, a former leader of the neo-fascist ‘Golden Dawn’, after his own party had been excluded from the polls. Their success shows how such a ban, proposed by New Democracy and backed by Pasok MPs in the previous Parliament, ultimately ended up aiding the far-right by boosting their supposed ‘anti-establishment’ credentials. Greek workers and youth will need to mobilise to counter both the threat of the far-right and the policies of the ND government.

On the left, MeRA25, the party led by former Syriza Finance Minister Varoufakis again failed to exceed the 3% threshold, although another split from Syriza, ‘Course of Freedom’, led by Zoi Konstantopoulou, once the Speaker of the Greek Parliament under the Syriza government, just managed to do so.

The KKE, the Greek Communist Party, if with just 20 MPs, will be the main left-wing voice in the Greek parliament. The KKE leader, Dimitris Koutsoumpas, actually came second behind Mitsotakis in a June 2023 opinion poll of party leaders' personal standings. Unlike Tsipras, who is now seen by many workers as just another politician who has abandoned his principles, Koutsoumpas comes across as a genuine voice opposing all the parties of capitalism. But neither have the KKE been able to attract mass support across the Greek working class so as to fill the vacuum left by the betrayals of both of the former left parties, Pasok and Syriza.

As internationally, Greek workers will need to overcome the setbacks and betrayals of former left parties to build a new mass workers' party. If the Greek working-class can create a leadership ready to match its traditions of struggle then, with the global economy heading for crisis, the smugness of the Greek capitalist class at the re-election of its political representative, Mitsotakis, could yet be short-lived.

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