With 71% of the vote in, the center-right New Democracy Party has a small but sustainable lead in the Greek Parliamentary elections. They hold 30.1% of the vote to 26.5% for the left-wing Syriza party. Pasok, the center-left party, holds third with 12.6%, the Democratic Left came in fourth with 7.5%, and the neo-Nazis in Golden Dawn have enough votes to enter Parliament, with around 7%.
Based on the returns right now, New Democracy and Pasok would hold enough seats to gain a majority in Parliament. However, spokesmen for Pasok have said tonight that they would not join a government coalition without Syriza, in a government of national unity. New Democracy has actually called for such a grand coalition, but Syriza has rejected the idea. There are slim pickings for a governing coalition for New Democracy, if Pasok and Syriza refuse. Furthermore, Syriza is saying tonight that they will not even try to form a government if New Democracy fails. This would set up, in the worst-case scenario, yet another round of elections. But that remains to be seen – we’re basically at the horse-trading stages at the moment.
Antonis Samaras, the leader of New Democracy, summarized his victory speech in English thusly:
His party would honour commitments to the EU.
It was a victory for all Europe.
A call for all political parties that share objectives to form government.
Sacrifices of Greek people will be reflected.
Determined to do what it takes and do it fast.
Fear apparently won out over anger tonight. The Greek public, bombarded for weeks with warnings that a Syriza victory would lead to their exit from the euro, opted for New Democracy in greater numbers. I would expect a government to get formed, despite the seeming deadlock at the moment. It’s a victory for the propaganda capabilities of the Eurozone leadership, who already took over the Greek government once, and now have put themselves in position to do it again, this time more indirectly. Syriza will carry on in the opposition, and in truth they may not really want much else at this stage.
And while the markets may react positively to the news, it’s another in a series of disappointments for the Greek people. Austerity will continue with just a couple tweaks. And as this won’t possibly lead to an improved economic situation, Greece will be back in a similar scenario just months down the road, in all likelihood. The critique was that you might as well rip off the band-aid now and start the painful process of euro exit and devaluation, because at least that would get to the bounce-back sooner. But that will be delayed once more.
…That was quick. Via Twitter, Pasok has apparently consented to join New Democracy in a coalition government. So they will now carry out the terms of the agreement they previously signed, with Syriza as the main opposition. And considering that this will only get worse and perhaps even collapse in the next several months, that might be a good place for Syriza to be.