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2012 Greek Parliamentary Elections: Post-Election Report

- May 7, 2012

The following post-election report on the 2012 Greek Parliamentary Elections is provided by  Harris Mylonas, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University and an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. (His pre-election report is available here.) His book, The Politics of Nation-Building: Making Co-Nationals, Refugees, and Minorities, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press.

This is a historic low for the two dominant parties ruling Greece since the collapse of the Junta in 1974, PASOK and Nea Demokratia.  Together they garnered only 33% of the vote. The result was hard to anticipate–especially the second place for the Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA), with 16,77%. Less unexpected was the electoral success of Independent Hellenes (10,6%) on the right and Golden Dawn on the far right (7%). A coalition government seems highly unlikely at the moment if one considers tonight’s statements by party leaders. It is interesting to note that more than 19% (!) of the vote was garnered by parties that did not ultimately make it to the parliament. These include: Popular Orthodox Rally-LAOS, Democratic Alliance, DRASI (Action), Dimiourgia Xana (Recreate Greece), Social Agreement (Koinoniki Symfonia), and the Green Party (Oikologoi Prasinoi). Finally, 35% of the Greek electorate–more than 3 million people–did not go to vote. These people may now be regretting their choice to not participate.

There are many messages that one can draw. People voted against the two-party system–that can no longer fulfill its side of the “patronage contract”–and against austerity measures. Yet, they voted–at least nominally–in favor of a European future. Another thing that is apparent is that the current electoral law produces odd and hardly representative results. For instance New Democracy received 2 percentage points more than the Coalition of Radical Left but this difference resulted in 56 more seats for the former party. Moreover, as a result of fragmentation of the party system, parties that did not make it to the parliament have collectively received a higher percentage than the first party, which receives 108 seats!

The European leaders are numb and will probably wait and see whether a government can be formed before they react to the result. This electoral result was not really expected and it increases the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Eurozone since a stable government in Greece seems unlikely. If we combine the Greek result with Hollande’s victory in France–and the expected friction in Franco-German relations–the markets will most likely react negatively and remain volatile until things clear out.

Full election results are available here (English) and here (Greek).