Tag Archives: KKE

PASOK and New Democracy: Still standing on Sunday?

There is little doubt that Sunday’s elections will deal painful blows to both PASOK and New Democracy. The question, though, is whether they will be knockout blows. Most indications are that despite their declining popularity Greece’s two main parties will survive.

Since 1981, PASOK and New Democracy have only once received a combined share of the vote that is less than 79 percent. This was in the most recent national elections, in 2009. It was the fourth consecutive elections in which the two parties saw their share of the vote decline but it would take a drop of monumental proportions on Sunday to keep the Socialists and conservatives from being in a position to form a government.

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Greece’s painful political transition

My fourth policy paper for the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung has just been published. It is on the subject of the Greek elections, what else? The aim is to look at the dominant themes in this campaign and the factors that Greeks will be contemplating before they cast their ballots on May 6. Despite the campaign being dominated by the rather sterile pro-/anti-bailout debate, there are actually a number of themes that will play a role in forming people’s opinions.

As the title suggests, this paper is an attempt to create a snapshot of the Greek political scene at a time when it is going through a major transition. As a result, parts of the picture will be blurry and incomplete because events are moving fast and there is no clear conclusion in sight. Nevertheless, I hope it provides readers with an insight into the tremendous economic, social and political changes Greece is undergoing.

You can read the paper in English here: http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/id/09061.pdf

You can read the paper in German here: http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/id/09060.pdf

Hard choices for the hard left

Much has been made recently of the rise of the so-called “hard left” in Greek politics. The most recent poll by Public Issue for Kathimerini newspaper put the combined support for the three leftist parties at 42.5 percent. This is indeed impressive. It’s indicative of the growing resentment at the successive waves of austerity that have left most Greeks foundering, and of the hapless handling of an admittedly complicated situation by the government.

What it does not herald, though (at least for now), is a united front against the EU-IMF loan agreement, or memorandum. The Communist Party (KKE) will not cooperate with any of the other parties and whether it receives 8, 12 or 20 percent of the vote is almost irrelevant. Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras has made some less-than-vigorous attempts to bridge the gaps between the three but his efforts appear dead in the water.

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They all fall down

Collapsing buildings seem to be a good metaphor for Greece during these dark days. A number of edifices in Athens are likely to be demolished after being gutted by fire during rioting on Sunday night. The vandalism and violence destroyed what was a large and peaceful demonstration against the austerity measures in Greece’s latest loan agreement with the European Union and International Monetary Fund. The deal was approved by MPs but the turmoil this process caused within Greece’s parties emphasized that the country’s political structure is also crumbling.

While the expulsion of 43 MPs from PASOK and New Democracy for not approving the bailout was the most visible sign of a political system that is reaching the end of its days, the last week laid bare much greater inadequacies. No matter how many lawmakers are jettisoned from this hot air balloon, it won’t get off the ground again.

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The Greek crisis and the politics of uncertainty

My latest policy paper for the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Friedrich Ebert Foundation) in Germany looks at the effect the economic crisis in Greece is having on the country’s political system.

In English: http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/id/ipa/08570.pdf

Previous papers for FES:

Greece, a year in crisis: Examining the political and social impact of an unprecedented austerity programme: http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/id/ipa/08208.pdf

Young Greeks: The danger of losing a generation: http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/id/ipa/08465.pdf

The parallax view

We will probably never find out exactly what happened at Syntagma Square on Thursday, when an anti-austerity protest degenerated into an all-out brawl between members of the Communist union PAME and the black block of rioters intent on wreaking havoc.

The unionists argue that they were aware of a plot by the rioters to disrupt the peaceful protest, as they had done a day earlier, and took measures to stop them. Photographs and video footage seem to support the theory that the hooded troublemakers were lurking among groups of other protesters, biding their team before launching an assault on the riot police in front of Parliament.

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Tribal politics

The booing rose and died again as Piggy lifted the white, magic shell.
“Which is better — to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is?”
A great clamor rose among the savages. Piggy shouted again.
“Which is better — to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?”
Again the clamor and again — “Zup!”
Ralph shouted against the noise.
“Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up?”
Now Jack was yelling too and Ralph could no longer make himself heard. Jack had backed right against the tribe and they were a solid mass of menace that bristled with spears.

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis

William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies,” a tale of stranded English schoolboys who veer between camaraderie and savagery as they try to survive on an uninhabited island, is a story you don’t forget very easily. Nevertheless, we should be thankful to Greece’s politicians for regularly reminding us of its key themes such as clashing impulses, moral quandaries and the desperate pursuit of power.

Even more than usual, the country’s political scene has closely resembled for the last few weeks the unforgiving and unnegotiable terrain of the island where Ralph, Jack, Piggy, Roger, Simon and the others were cast adrift. We are used to the mundane barbs from George, Antonis, Aleka, Giorgos, Alexis and the others being punctuated by the odd dose of vitriol but the political language recently has utterly caustic. Grave accusations such as those of betrayal, lying and inciting violence are now being thrown about in Parliament like backgammon dice in a kafeneio.

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