Monday, May 7, 2012

Greek Parliament 'hung' among seven parties

I'm following The Guardian here (or more exactly, which provides them). Please understand that it's not official results and that one or more seats may still swap sides. 

The seven parties are (updated at 99.6% of scrutiny):
  1. New Democracy (ND, conservatives): 1,188,396 votes (18.9%) - 58 rightful seats + 50 extra seats for being the first party = 108 seats
  2. Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA): 1,056,852 votes (16.8%) - 52 seats
  3. Pan-Hellenic Socialist Party (PASOK): 830,797 votes (13.2%) - 41 seats
  4. Independent Greeks (conservative dissidents): 668,149 votes (10.6%) - 33 seats
  5. Communist Party of Greece (KKE): 534,119 votes (8.5%) - 26 votes
  6. Golden Dawn (Nazis): 439,259 votes (7.0%) - 21 seats
  7. Democratic Left (DIMAR): 384,599 votes (6.1%) - 19 seats
All other parties have not reached the 3% threshold and will therefore be out of Parliament, notably the Ecologist Greens (2.9%), who have grown but not enough to retain their representation, and the far-right LAOS (Christian-Fascism, 2.9%) who are paying for their error of being part of the Papademos great coalition ECB-IMF government, even if briefly. 

Another clear failure was ANTARSYA, the Front of the Greek Anticapitalist Left, which hoped to grow among discontent but only got 1.2% of votes.

Actually all the Left except SYRIZA have performed not as well as expected. Not long ago opinion polls gave the KKE and DIMAR hopes of being above the 12% but they have ended clearly much lower. The KKE barely grows a percentile point and DIMAR has totally failed to scrap most of the votes lost by the suicidal PASOK.

Well, that is unless you consider that the PASOK is still at the left (what I do not see any single reason to). In that case, we must admit that they have not collapsed as badly as expected, somehow managing to survive the worst expectations of 8% of vote.

But the clear winner in the Left and in general is SYRIZA, which, against all expectations (just months ago they were struggling for a 12% in the opinion polls) have become the second party, or more exactly coalition, in the Greek political landscape, stepping on the very heels of the conservatives. 

This Communist-Ecologist coalition is articulated around the Coalition of the Left Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos, technically a single party in spite of the name),  which is the non-Stalinist byproduct of the purges inside the KKE and allies. Other smaller parties (ecologists, Trotskyists and KKE dissidents) have rallied around them in the SYRIZA larger coalition. 

Why does ND get more than double seats than SYRIZA when it only has a small advantage?

Don't ask me but it seems that the electoral system strongly favors those who get first position in each district. SYRIZA may have got a lot of votes but won mostly in Greater Athens and other key areas (Central Greece, Thessaloníki, Achaea, etc.), while ND has managed to be the first, even if by little, in most of the countryside.

That's what I gather. I see no other explanation.

Update: I have been told (h/t to Guy Herbert) that I was wrong: the reason is that the party in the nationwide first position gets 50 extra seats just because, the reasoning being that it helps to form solid governments. 

So ND only has 58 legitimate seats and then the extra 50 ones... I wonder what would have happened if SYRIZA won first position (it was really close). Hmmm... 102+26+19=147, just four seats short of a majority for the left at the left of the PASOK. But of course if they would have won, they would have got a few apportioned seats more... it would have been interesting and it may still happen if a new election has to be called.

Pluralities by district: ND, SYRIZA, PASOK, KKE
The leading party ND has performed quite poorly specially in Central Greece, Thessaloníki, and Crete, where it does not reach the 15% of vote in any case and sometimes fall under the 10% psychological barrier.

The second bloc, SYRIZA, courts the 20% of voter support in Central Greece (mostly above 19%) but actually reaches it in some specific areas: Athens-B, Achaea, Artas and Ksanthis.

The great loser, PASOK, actually falls well under 10% in Central Greece and Magnesia (Volos), but retains some support in the countryside. 

The main support for the KKE is in the islands (Samos, Lesbos, Ionian islands) and to a lesser extent in the urban areas and the rural North and West.

The Independent Greeks get scattered support with some emphasis in the Dodecanese (Rhodes) and Western and Northern mainland non-urban areas.

The Nazis have got its greatest support in Corinth and Laconia (Sparta), with worrying presence also in some other districts like Attica (not in urban Athens though).

What governments can result from this situation?

Probably no government. If last minute seats jump favorably to the ruling grand coalition, the twin party bloc could muster a single seat majority of 151 votes but this would be extremely unstable. It has yet to happen in any case: at the moment ND-PASOK only gather 149 seats (updated), not enough. 

The Right, including the Nazis, could muster a majority but not only the inclusion of the extremist right would be a major issue but also it's difficult to see how the pro-BCE New Democracy and their anti-austerity dissidents, the Independent Greeks, can come together on the key issue of applying the IMF poisonous "medicine". They also lack a clear voter support (36.5% only): they could muster a technical majority but lack a popular one, what should be a major legitimacy issue.

While the Left, including PASOK, has a majority in the popular vote (44.6%), they can't muster enough MPs to form government and they are anyhow most unlikely to come together after what PASOK has done to the Greek popular classes in the last year and half.

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