A guest post today from our irregular Greek correspondent, Marinos Antypas, looking ahead to this Sunday’s elections. 

So here is my Greek pre-election digest. The political landscape is very fluid. What is certain is that the two once-big parties will see a halving of their combined votes. Traditionally being able to gather between 80 and 90% of the vote between them, they are now desperate for the 35% between them that would allow them to form a coalition government.

If we are to believe the opinion polls (which must stop 2 weeks before elections, so the last one we had was one week ago), Nea Demokratia are in the lead but are struggling to gather 20%. PASOK fluctuates between 8% and 15%, under its new President, Venizelos. Both parties have made it clear they are willing to form a coalition. Still, the percentage they need to form a government is conditional on how much of the vote goes to parties that do not manage to get into parliament.

This is a tricky one: if say 20% of the vote goes to parties that do not manage to pass the national 3% necessary to get them into parliament then the coalition or the first party needs only 35% to form a government of 151/300 majority. If the percentage of such votes is small, say 1%, then the coalition or first party needs something closer to 40%, with a graded variance for the scenarios in between.

Now if ND gets 20% and PASOK get, say, 15% (35% between them) what about the other parties?

The Left: It looks like SYRIZA (the leftist coalition party) will come second or third with 12-15%. KKE (the Communist Party) will get around 11%-12% and the Democratic Left (Eurocommunists) around 10%-13%. The Greens (the Left Greens rather than the insignificant Right Greens) seem likely to get in Parliament with 3-4%. So the Left combined gets between 36-44%. Thus SYRIZA is urging post-election cooperation and the formation of a Left Front government.

The Right: It looks like the leading party to the Right of ND is a new party, the Independent Greeks, led by an ex-ND conspiracy-theorist MP. The party has a religious right profile and in the polls gets 10-15%. Scandalously, SYRIZA has announced that it would accept a vote of confidence from the Independent Greeks so as to form a government (supposedly with the General Secretary of the KKE as PM!). LAOS, the Le-Penist extreme-right, is struggling to get into Parliament with an estimated 3%. Its votes have been absorbed by the Golden Dawn (Neo-Nazis), who seem to be getting 5% of the vote (scary stuff!). So the extreme-right seems to collect between 18-21% of the vote.

Neoliberals: The two neoliberalist parties seem to be struggling to get into Parliament. They are both pro-IMF, and it seems unlikely that they can both get 3%, so a safe assumption is that one will just manage to get into Parliament. Both are led by ex-MPs, one by the defeated presidential candidate for ND, and daughter of Mitsotakis (the old ND PM), Dora Bakogianni.

So the three ‘blocks of power’ are:

Pro-IMF (ND+PASOK+Neolibs) 35-38%
Anti-IMF Left: 36-44%
Anti-IMF Right: 18-21%
Weird Left-Right Coalition (Anti-IMF Left+Independent Greeks): 46-59%

Now why does this balance of power matter? Only the leading party can normally call for a coalition, yet if this fails it is believed that the President of the Republic, if he is willing, can seek to prevent further elections and chaos by giving the coalition formation order to the second party, which might be SYRIZA.

In any case it will be extremely difficult for a pro-IMF coalition to govern if it does not have at least 165 seats in Parliament, the number necessary to elect a new President of the Republic. If their Presidential candidate is not voted in, then elections will have to be called again.

Politically speaking, it will be difficult to rule if the two pro-IMF parties do not gather something around 45-50% of the vote, for then the anti-IMF parties on the Left and Right will always be able to protest that this is a sham democratic process.

So as you can see the situation is precarious. No one knows what the results will be in an election contest which is universally recognised as the most significant of the Republic.

picture credit – teacher dude