Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Greek Election - June 2012 Results Summary

In Greece, there are many communist organizations. Two of the important ones are the Stalinist Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Maoist Communist Organization of Greece (KOE). 

The Maoist KOE was officially founded in 2003 by former members of KKE and is a member of the SYRIZA coalition.  

The KKE is not a member of the SYRIZA coalition and suffered reversals in the June 2012 elections compared to it's May 2012 performance. 

Members of the KOE celebrate their Party's Victory in the June 2012 elections. 
Greek left misses winning by a hair

On Sunday June 17, Greece held a new election to correct the fact that in the last one, on May 6, voters split their votes in such a way as to make the formation of a governing majority impossible. Now it looks as if a coalition will be built around the conservative New Democratic Party (Nea Demokratia), but how this coalition will deal with Greece's punishing economic crisis is anybody's guess.

The major dynamic leading up to Sunday's election was the galloping pace at which the left-wing SYRIZA party was advancing in the public opinion polls. SYRIZA is a heterodox leftist party which includes some former members of the Greek Communist Party but also some Trotskyites, Maoists, social democrats and others. It had surprised many by coming in second after New Democracy in the last election, leaving the social democratic Pan Hellenic Socialist Party, PASOK, in its dust.

The question now was would SYRIZA overtake ND also. A bizarrely undemocratic feature of the Greek electoral system is that the party that comes in first in parliamentary elections, even if just by one vote, is immediately awarded 50 extra seats in the 300-seat parliament. When ND came in first in April, even those 50 seats were not enough to let it head a coalition government.

Sunday's result for SYRIZA was, as Marx (Groucho) used to say, "close, but no cigar."  Both SYRIZA and ND increased their popular vote. SYRIZA increased its seats in parliament by 19, to a total of 71 as opposed to the 52 it won in the last election. ND edged out SYRIZA by 1,825,609 to 1,655,053, and so came in first and won the extra 50-seat bonus, for a total of 129.

The advances for both the conservative ND and the leftist SYRIZA came mostly at the expense of PASOK, which dropped by eight seats to only 33 in the new parliament. This was voter punishment of PASOK for having presided over the start of the current financial crisis, and having accepted the austerity program imposed by foreign creditors.

Very bad news was the overtly fascist Golden Dawn party saw only a very slight reduction in its popular vote of 425,980, and retained 18 of the 21 seats it had won in May. Golden Dawn celebrated this victory by an orgy of hooliganism featuring violence against leftists and immigrants.

The Greek Communist Party, KKE, saw severe losses. Its popular vote dropped somewhat from the last election, but this was reflected in a reduction of parliamentary seats from 26 to 12.

The previous ultra-right parliamentary party, LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally), wiped out on May 6, did not succeed in re-entering parliament.

Alexis Tsipras, the leader of SYRIZA, made it clear that his party will not join a government which is committed to the austerity program, so New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras went shopping to smaller parties. On Wednesday, it was announced that a coalition will be formed of New Democracy, PASOK and the Democratic Left, with Samaras as prime minister.

Why did New Democracy edge out SYRIZA? Both had said they would prefer to keep Greece within the Euro zone, and both had promised to try to negotiate changes to soften the austerity program. In contrast, the KKE had openly called for Greek withdrawal from the Euro and the European Union (as well as NATO) no matter what the consequences. Public opinion polls had shown that Greek voters, though very angry with the parties that had got their country into its present straits - New Democracy and PASOK - were also afraid of the consequences of leaving, or being kicked out, of the Euro zone.

But the most important question is: What happens now? Greece is an economic basket case and its creditors, including the "troika" (International Monetary Fund, Central Bank of Europe and European Commission) and the Germans and other wealthy European states, are saying that they will offer little or no flexibility on the terms of the austerity programs that they have imposed in exchange for bailout loans. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said that it would be a pity if Greece left the Euro zone, but that if that is inevitable, so be it.

But new factors that have emerged include the spread of the financial and economic contagion from Greece, Ireland and Portugal to Spain and most likely also Italy, the latter two being much larger economies than the first three combined. And many economic commentators, not only on the left, point out that trying to get out of a depression by shrinking the economy is deranged: That just intensifies the problem.

 It will now be seen whether France, the United States and other powerful countries can persuade the Germans to back off their intransigent position on austerity, and what this will mean for the Greek situation specifically.

Source :  http://www.peoplesworld.org/greek-left-misses-winning-by-a-hair/

The Pink Papers have as usual got their panties in a twist about the left resurgence in Greece. 

Back to the 1930s: The Hammer, Sickle and Swastika
The electoral results demonstrate the dangers to the Greek democracy. The centre-right New Democracy party may have edged ahead, but the parliament, for the first time in Greek history, will be full of extremists. 

Besides the neo-nazis and a Stalinist communist party there is Syriza, whose leader is a fan of Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro and Hugo Ch├ívez. It is difficult to find a notable dictator, even among the great butchers of the 20th century, without a steady following in the Greek parliament. The three protagonists of the dreadful TV incident were also elected. 

Imagine them together in routine parliamentary proceedings. Golden Dawn members have already made it clear they would come down hard on any member of parliament saying something they strongly disapprove of. 

Read the rest on Financial Times

Viewpoint: Election leaves Greece deeply split

Greece's economic crisis and increasingly polarised public opinion fuelled much loose talk about the potential for civil war in the run-up to the repeat election of 17 June.

This touched a raw nerve in Greece's public consciousness, invoking memories of the civil war which engulfed the country for three years in the late 1940s.

The question remains: is there a deep left-right split, or are current divisions in Greek politics of a different nature?

That civil war, from 1946 to 1949, pitted Greek communists against the monarchist "National" forces: a classic civil conflict between left and right which scarred the Greek political landscape.

Defeated militarily in 1949, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was banned from politics until 1974, when it was legalised as Greece entered its post-dictatorship democratisation.

By the late 1970s, the Greek left had found its voice through the increasingly popular socialist Pasok party led by Andreas Papandreou, which finally got into power in 1981. In the 31 years since then, the political scene has been dominated by Pasok - which has governed for 23 of those years - and the centre-right New Democracy party (ND).

Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) has now supplanted Pasok as the dominant party of the left.

In a startling electoral leap, Syriza went from polling 4.6% in the October 2009 general election, to just under 27% this month, emerging as the main rival to the victorious ND party.

Pasok decline

This massive change in the political dynamics of the left is mainly a result of the blame attached to Pasok for the creation and dire handling of the economic crisis. Disaffected Pasok voters and the discontents farther to the left have abandoned their traditional party affiliations and shifted to Syriza.

Greece country profile

Syriza has been cast as the successor to Pasok, as the "soft" or "centre" left party. Its leader is the telegenic Alexis Tsipras, prone to populist promises and rhetoric, and compared by many in style and tone to the young Andreas Papandreou.

Syriza challenges the parties that are sticking with the EU/IMF austerity programmes - in particular New Democracy.

Consequently, Syriza for many does not offer a "leftist" answer to Greece's economic problems, but a popular, nationalist one - an attempt to rescue Greece on Greek terms.

So the political debate in which Syriza has become a central player is not one of right and left. Rather, it is between those - like ND - seeking solutions to Greece's woes within the eurozone and through austerity and radical reform, and those - like Syriza - willing to risk Greek membership of the eurozone, and potentially the EU, by promoting unrealistic policies based on bravado and increased public spending.

Yet there is in effect a deep left-right cleavage in Greek politics, enhanced by Syriza's rise. It may have embraced many centre-left, middle class professionals and public sector workers, but it remains at heart a party of the hard left.

Syriza is a coalition of 12 groups, including the Communist Organisation of Greece (KOA), the Renewal Communist Ecological Left (AKOA) and the Movement for the United Action in Left (KEDA), which emerged from the KKE, as well as the more moderate Synaspismos.

This core of the movement has aspirations which go beyond the current crisis and speaks a Marxist language from a different age. Many of them would be glad to return to the drachma and a big-spending state, with nationalised industry and banks.

Search for solutions

ND by contrast offers European centre-right politics and economics, based on private enterprise and public sector reform, tempered by a history of clientelism and corporate statism.

If you throw into this mix the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party, which has emerged from nowhere to claim 7% of the vote and 18 seats in parliament, what emerges is a picture of increasing division between left and right.

Greece is undergoing an extremely painful period of economic hardship, caused by a generation of economic mismanagement and exacerbated by debilitating austerity programmes.

Now in its fifth year of recession, Greek society is desperately seeking a lifeline to cling to. Many believe that Europe holds answers to Greece's problems, and an amended austerity and reform package will lead Greece out of turmoil.

Significant numbers have sought solace in more nationally introspective parties, which portray Europe as part of the problem and are ideologically driven to consider market-based economics as a curse.

Others have gone even further and embraced basic nationalism and even fascism in seeking solutions to their problems. In essence, the middle ground in Greek politics is being eroded.

Source : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18550759

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