The end of post-memorandum bipartisanship

The end of post-memorandum bipartisanship
The end of post-memorandum bipartisanship

In 2019, the SW achieved self-reliance with 39.85%, with SYRIZA to collect the not inconsiderable percentage of 31.53%. If someone included his percentage as well PASOK (8.10%), the equivalence between the ND and the (hypothetical) SYRIZA-PASOK front was obvious.

Three electoral contests and dozens of polls later, the scene appears completely different: Now the ND appears dominant, having won self-reliance for the second time, with SYRIZA suffering an electoral defeat and dragging any theories of “post-memorandum bipartisanship” or of future dominance of the “ruling Left”. This trend is confirmed by the latest wave of opinion polls, with the main feature being the further drop in the percentages of SYRIZA

Polls October 2023
SW 38% 38.5% 36.6%
SYRIZA 15.2% 17% 12.9%
PASOK 13.4% 13.5% 11.9%
*Vote rating
**Voting intention

The shrinking of SYRIZA – and its inability to recover – is the catalyst for the inability to reconstitute a centre-left pole, which would be the counterweight to the supremacy of the ND. The vacuum in the Center-Left is turning into a vacuum in the opposition, which, in fact, under today’s conditions, is at a complete impasse. On the one hand, the infiltration of Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Center, on the other hand an alienated micro-megaloism of SYRIZA, during the four years that it was the official opposition, crushed the Greek patent of “small bipartisanship” in the post-memorandum era as well as the illusions of Alexis Tsipras about “progressive governance”. Of course, in essence, the former president of SYRIZA is right: in order for the two-party system to work in Greece – and not only – it needs not only a pole-counterweight to the dominance of the ND but also the possibility for this pole to have the realistic possibility of rotation in power. This happened in Greece from the post-colonial period until the crisis of 2009. This is happening in the USA, Britain and other – not many, it is true – European countries.

Why SYRIZA is collapsing like a paper tower is something its leaders themselves refuse to study – choosing instead to propose the election of a new president in the party, with shake-ups that portend the worst. But it is clear that, among other things, Alexis Tsipras led his party into a showdown of bipartisan logic when the system had long ceased to be bipartisan and highly volatile. Electoral fluidity began with the 2009 crisis and continued to characterize all subsequent electoral contests. The Petersen index shows the electoral fluidity from the post-colonial period until 2009 at around 10%. This jumped in 2019, after ten years of crisis, to 21%, a record percentage. Mobility has not ceased to play a role to this day, only the ND has benefited the most from it – and continues to benefit, as the metrics show – from it.

It is indicative of what the late adviser of Alexis Tsipras, Nikos Marantzidis, wrote as recently as 2021: “The 2019 elections put the party system back on the track of bipartisanship… Some predict, and others fear, that SYRIZA will collapse and become small again party. In politics you never say never, but something like that doesn’t seem visible today.” It finally became visible in the last election contests, with political associations resembling Helmut Kohl’s dominance in Germany or the long-standing presence of the Christian Democrats in Italian governments.

However, there are not a few who argue that the opposition gap must be filled, on the one hand because the bipolar logic existed for a long time in our political system, on the other hand because the lack of another pole favors the conditions of a political monopoly. As the political analyst Eutychis Vardoulakis notes, “neither the people want this, nor should the ND want it, as – as Mitterrand said – ‘in politics, in addition to friends, you also need enemies.’ The imbalance, however, also creates conditions for further instability, and the recent electoral contests have shown that the political system remains volatile.”

However, what is evident is how, now, the Left is not able to be the driving force for a reorganization of the opposition space. SYRIZA changed its president, Mr. Kasselakis may have charmed the majority of all those who came to the intra-party polls, but at the level of society, he moves in low flight. Much more so, that public opinion is unable to judge the new President as a left-wing leader: in the GPO poll, the suitability of Mr. Kasselakis to govern in the place of Mr. Mitsotakis is only at 12.1%, behind Mr. Androulakis (13.8%), dominated by Mr. Mitsotakis (48%). The road to change seems impassable…

To the disappointment of Mr. Tsakalotou, in the same measurement, only 6.1% consider Mr. Kasselakis leftist. 17.4% consider him center-left, 15.6% centrist – and here the unpredictability begins: 17% consider him center-right and 14.3% right-wing… There is also 20.2% who do not classify him in any category .

The road to the formation of the “new SYRIZA”, therefore, is still long and, in any case, if we judge from how public opinion judges the developments in this party, it is now impossible to envisage a great return to Maximos, since in essence in order to if such a thing is done, he must shake off the “left cocoon”. Then of course we will be talking about a completely different party. Here the consequences of the possibility of splitting in such a turn are not taken into account.

It is therefore justified to ask whether PASOK-KINAL can play the role of reconstituting the opposition bloc, since the “governing Left” has short-circuited its cycle of introversion. So far, the measurements do not show such dynamics. PASOK gains little from SYRIZA’s losses. But the imminent ambition of Mr. Androulakis – in view of the elections – to become this second party in the preferences of the citizens, is incompatible with any logic of convergence. Therefore, the vision of the “co-governing centre-left” has no basis, at least for now. But let’s keep the only correct thing from the above-mentioned statement by Mr. Marantzidis: In politics, never say never.

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The article is in Greek

Tags: postmemorandum bipartisanship


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