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Greek Parliamentary Elections – a Round-Up

Greek President, Karolos Papoulias has instructed on the formation an interim government in advance of a second parliamentary election will have to be called following the inconclusive one of 6 May.

The only two parties whose combined seats could have reached the 151 seats required for a majority Coalition were the centre-right New Democracy and radical leftist Syrzia with 108 and 52 seats respectively; a partnership which would have been difficult to reconcile.

The increase of 39 seats to 52 for the emergent Syriza, led by the cherubic Alexis Tsipras can be appreciated as rejection of the last few decades of musical chairs between New Democracy and Pasok led by technocrats or hereditary politicians whom Greeks blame – in many cases, quite rightly – for appalling mismanagement of a low industrialized economy which they believed could compete with North European economies.

Pasok – New Democracy’s partner in the previous Coalition – saw its seats plummet further than the LibDems know will happen to them, with a paltry return of 41 compared to the previous 160. Despite this, New Democracy gained 19 seats, albeit with a near halfing of their percentage vote.

In comparison, a relatively untainted option from the centre-right, Liberal Alliance aka Drasi scored under 2% of the popular vote with no seats.

(The oft-repeated claim that during the boom years, it was cheaper to send Greek rail passengers by taxis than by rail appears to have originated from a quip made by Drasi leader, Stephanos Manos when finance minister in 1992. BBC News considers this claim.)

An entirely unwelcome beneficiary of the 6 May election was the neo-Nazi Party, Golden Dawn with 21 seats (previously none) and 7% of the popular vote; the first and possibly last time, Greek politics were discussed on music websites. Their support base included the areas of Kalavryta and Distomo, scenes of massacres by the previous Nazis to have held power in Greece.

It is hoped that this represented a protest vote, which will be quashed
in a new election.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, the assumption is that Greece will exit from the Euro and return to the Drachma as Greek depositors take heed and start a run on the banks to withdraw Euros.

It is going to be messy.