Greeks voted for parliament for the second time this tumultuous year. In 100 words, here are the key results:
Syriza lost just 4 seats relative to January but replaced 22 of the 26 defector MPs who quit the party this summer over the bailout capitulation. The junior coalition partner Independent Greeks lost 3 seats. That leaves the existing coalition down just 7 seats versus January but up 19 supporting MPs versus recent weeks.
Syriza’s main ideological competition (Potami) lost a fair number of seats, and older-school socialist and communist parties rose back up from the ashes. Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn picked up 1 seat and almost a percentage point to finish 3rd at 7%, but their absolute supporter turnout figure dropped, along with the whole electorate’s turnout.
As part of the anti-austerity coalition deal between the leftist, pro-european reformers of Syriza and the right-wing, euroskeptic Independent Greeks, the latter were given the country’s National Defense portfolio in the government. Unlike Syriza, which at least officially favors cooperation with Europe, the Independent Greeks party under Defense Minister Panos Kammenos (pictured) is openly antagonizing other European Union governments and being far less diplomatic — either as a rogue effort or as the role of “bad cop” outside the negotiations.
The latest ramp-up in “bad cop” talk was Minister Kammenos’s suggestion that the eurozone would disintegrate in the aftermath of a Greek economic implosion or exit, with Italy, Spain, and possibly even Germany being forced to go back on to their own currencies too. (The latter seems pretty unlikely.)
He also recently threatened to release all Middle Eastern refugees in holding in Greece into the rest of the Union with papers to enter Germany — in the midst of a political crisis there over refugees — if Germany fails to ease up on its demands upon Greece, and he reiterated counter-demands that Germany repay Nazi war debts that Greece forgave under Allied pressure in 1953 along with damages from the brutal Nazi occupation and counterinsurgency of Greece during the war. (Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos, a former academic who is not a member of either party in the governing coalition, also suggested that failure to repay the debts and damages could open German companies in Greece to asset seizure.)
But the most specific and perhaps unexpected demand to emanate from the defense ministry was actually related to defense! The ministry — along, actually, with some German journalists — alleges that its predecessors wasted billions in public funds on buying weapons systems and arms it didn’t need from EU firms that bribed Greek officials to make the purchases, and they want compensation. Reuters reports: Read more
The leftist Syriza and the Independent Greeks party have formed a coalition government successfully after Sunday’s historic elections.
The Independent Greeks, unfortunately, are a right-wing nationalist party aligned with the Orthodox Church and against the EU and immigrants. However, they are far milder than Golden Dawn, and they are anti-austerity, which is a major point of agreement with Syriza.
Independent Greeks campaigned explicitly on the idea of being a junior coalition partner to Syriza. They also held just 13 seats as the 6th place party, which will provide enough for a governing majority but few enough to significantly prevent Syriza from calling the shots.
Still, I would have thought a coalition with the centrist/pro-European/anti-corruption The River party (4th place) would have made more sense, since Syriza is also pro-European and anti-corruption and neither are right-wing.
Composition of the parliament of Greece following the January 25, 2015 election. (Adapted from JackWilfred/Wikimedia)