On the evening of the January ’15 election, I was delighted with Syriza’s win and I expressed the hope that this popular rejection of austerity would offer Europe a chance to change course and move away from an orthodoxy that had failed everyone. Sadly it was not meant to be, both because Syriza turned out to realise the worst of my fears, and because Europe reacted to Greek demands with almost complete disdain.
What happened since has been documented extensively in the posts of this blog. There is no point in taking you again through my gradual disillusionment with Syriza over the course of the year. We are currently facing another election in Greece. On the 20th of September the Greeks will get to vote again on how they feel about the available teams offering to guide the country through this abysmal mess. I explained briefly in another post why Mr Tsipras does not deserve to be PM again, and tried here to self-identify politically.
All this brings us to the crux of this issue. Who does one vote for in this election? In order to answer this question we must first identify what the goal of the selection should be. The goal (for me at least) is to secure Greece’s position in the Eurozone, and crucially in the EU; to allow for normalisation of the economic situation that allows Greece to benefit from the ECB bond buying programme, bring about a relaxation to the liquidity problem and a lifting of capital controls. It is my belief (for a variety of reasons explained at length in other posts) that Greece’s only chance of exiting the crisis is through Europe and cooperation with our creditors. It will take a long time, it will be painful, but it is better than the Drachma wrapped alternative of Prof Lapavitsas and his Popular Unity buddies. Way better.
If the aim is the preservation of Greece’s European trajectory, which formation/party in this election can ensure it? We all know that it is not possible for anyone to achieve a Parliamentary majority. Reasons for this are plentiful, but the most important is the large number of small parties that are likely to be represented in Parliament. They mean that for the first party to breach 151 MPs, it needs to achieve much more than 35% of the vote. Syriza and ND poll at less that 30% each at the moment. Majority is not likely for anyone.
A coalition government is the logical outcome of the spread of forces this autumn. Because of this, which party comes first is vitally important. The first party gets a bonus of 50 seats which then allows a coalition with one or more of the smaller forces. Who you vote for on September 20 determines which party comes first.
I explained before who I would not vote for. From those remaining, which should be the right choice? The problem with voting for PASOK or Potami is that it empowers potential partners, but partners to whom? If one wants to punish Syriza for its disastrous 8 months in office, is it sensible to allow Tsipras to remain the leader of the first party in Parliament?
I am struggling with the conclusion of these thoughts, as they point to voting for Nea Dimokratia (ND) in the hope that they come first and then strike a deal with Potami (and/or PASOK).
I deeply dislike ND. Karamanlis (PM from 2004-2009) run a populist band of thieves and is largely responsible for Greece’s dismal troubles. Samaras (PM before Tsipras) is a populist nationalist who stuffed the party with despicable fascists and right-wingers like Georgiadis. Yet, I dislike even more the nationalist fascists of ANEL, Mr Tsipras favourite government partner.
In Greece often (some say always) one votes against the worst option, rather than for the best one. In this election I would be willing to vote ND, but I have one condition. I would like its members, especially the prominent ones, to keep their mouths shut. I can pinch my nose and vote for those I despise, but do me a favour and don’t gloat.