Syriza supporters celebrate on the streets of Athens. Photo: Adolfo Indignado Cuartero/Flickr
The parties that have ruled Greece since the end of the military dictatorship in 1974, the conservative New Democracy and centre-left Pasok, have collapsed. And the radical left in the form of Syriza has become the new second party in Greece.
This is unprecedented. There has only been one election since 1974 where one of the two main parties wasn’t able to gain a clear majority and form a one-party government. Between them, New Democracy and Pasok were polling between 70 and 90 per cent.
Now they have only got 33 per cent between them.
New Democracy has fallen from 33 per cent of the vote in 2009 to 19 per cent—from 2.3 million votes to 1.2 million.
And Pasok has collapsed even further, from 44 per cent to 13 per cent. It has gone from three million votes to just 800,000.
Two thirds of the Greek population now say in opinion polls that they oppose the eurozone loan agreements, and the austerity packages that come with them.
The political forces that support the agreements still get a bigger vote than this would suggest—40 per cent between New Democracy, Pasok, the extreme right Laos and extra-parliamentary liberal parties Action and Democratic Alliance.
There is a clear majority, though, for parties that campaigned in favour of the immediate cancellation of the loan agreements: a total of 44 per cent for radical left coalition Syriza, the right wing Independent Greeks, the communists of the KKE—and the neo-Nazis of Golden Dawn.
Parties that only say they want to renegotiate the loan agreements, or don’t have a clear position—Democratic Left, the Greens, the liberal party Creation—scored around 7.5 per cent.
The rise of Syriza
Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left, saw an extraordinary rise in its vote, from 4.6 per cent to 17 per cent.
It topped the poll by far in all the big cities—Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras—and in working class neighbourhoods elsewhere.
The party campaigned for the immediate cancellation of the austerity agreements, but also for Greece to stay in the eurozone. (It remains to be seen how it will pursue these contradictory objectives.)
The three radical left parties—Syriza, KKE and the anti-capitalist Antarsya—gathered 27 per cent of the vote between them.
The shock of Golden Dawn
At the same time, shockwaves were created by the huge jump in the vote of out-and-out neo-Nazi criminal gang Golden Dawn. They got 7 per cent—enough to enter parliament for the first time.
Meanwhile Independent Greeks, a split from New Democracy focused on opposition to immigration, got 11 per cent. The third extreme right party, Laos, got 2.9 per cent. That makes a total of 21 per cent for the far right, up from around 9 per cent in 2009.
We should also take note that New Democracy campaigned under the slogan “re-occupy our neighborhoods from the immigrant ghettos”—and Pasok supported the building of detention centres for immigrants.
Greece’s electoral laws have demonstrated their absurdity by awarding the first party a bonus of 50 extra seats. New Democracy won 108 seats, Syriza 52, Pasok 41, Independent Greeks 33, KKE 26, Golden Dawn 21 and Democratic Left 19.
Each party, in order of size, has three days’ mandate to form a government. If it fails, the mandate passes to the next party for three days, and so on.
New Democracy and Pasok are calling for a broad, pro-EU coalition. Syriza insists on an unworkable left coalition without Pasok. Independent Greeks say they won’t cooperate with the ‘traitors’ of Pasok and New Democracy. And the KKE says it won’t cooperate with the ‘new social democrats’ of Syriza, who it says ‘spread illusions’. Meanwhile Democratic Left says it will support a government that begins a process of disengagement from the loan agreements.
The most likely outcome looks like Pasok, New Democracy and Democratic Left attempting to form a government when the mandate passes to the third party, Pasok.
Such a government would have a majority—168 out of 300 seats in parliament. But it would be politically very weak, because its backbone would be parties that were spectacularly punished by the popular vote. It would also mean a huge political cost for the third party in the coalition, whether that was Democratic Left or anyone else.
Syriza still hopes to convince Democratic Left and the KKE to support it, together with MPs willing to quit the New Democracy and Pasok parliamentary groups.
How Syriza deals with this process, and whether the KKE will abandon the failed tactics that cost it thousands of working class votes, will decide whether a front for people’s power can be formed—and the fate of the Greek left.
Antarsya, the anti-capitalist party which tripled its vote from 25,000 to 75,000, also has an important political role to play in this respect.
Yiorgos Vassalos is an activist and researcher with Corporate Europe Observatory.
Yasmin Gunaratnam reflects on John Berger’s gut solidarity with the stranger
Charlie Clarke and Heather Mendick discuss how to work through the tensions within Momentum
As man-made global warming gets closer to the tipping point, Andrew Simms finds reasons to be positive about averting catastrophic climate change
In this extract from his new book The Candidate, Alex Nunns tells the inside story of how Jeremy Corbyn scraped onto the Labour leadership ballot in 2015
Graham Jones proposes a framework for a diverse movement to flourish
Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion
Musician Eliane Correa reflects on the fading revolution
Trump's victory is another sign of the failure of the centre-left's narrative on climate change. A new message is needed, and new politicians to deliver it, writes Alex Randall
Siobhán McGuirk says the question we are too afraid to ask is simple - what kind of society leads to Donald Trump as President?
The battle lines are clear. Democracy is in peril and the left must take itself seriously electorally and politically. Ruth Potts speaks to Gary Younge, who was based in Muncie, Indiana, for the US election, about the implications of Donald Trump’s victory
In Pictures: The World Transformed
Photos from The World Transformed festival in Liverpool, by David Walters
Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
Short story: Syrenka
A short story by Kirsten Irving
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant
Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’
Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue
Utopia: Room for all
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK
A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank
News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions
Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release
Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts
‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette
The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.
How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op
Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU
Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson
Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release
University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.
Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.
Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History
Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.
A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas
Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
'A small manifesto for black liberation through socialist revolution' - Graham Campbell reviews Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation'
The abolition of Art History A-Level will exacerbate social inequality
This is a massive blow to the rights of ordinary kids to have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Danielle Child reports.
Mass civil disobedience in Sudan
A three-day general strike has brought Sudan to a stand still as people mobilise against the government and inequality. Jenny Nelson writes.
Mustang film review: Three fingers to Erdogan
Laura Nicholson reviews Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s unashamedly feminist film critique of Turkey’s creeping conservatism
What if the workers were in control?
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry
Airport expansion is a racist policy
Climate change is a colonial crisis, writes Jo Ram