Three days before Greeks vote in the country’s second round of local elections, along with those for the European Parliament, the political system appears to have dropped the ball. The main reason is that municipal and regional candidates – especially in Athens and the Attica region – are seeking to extract Golden Dawn’s share in the runoff vote.
New Democracy and PASOK – the two parties that make up the coalition government – are accusing main leftist opposition SYRIZA of seeking to forge an unholy alliance with the neo-Nazi party. ND and PASOK are essentially building on the “two extremes” doctrine, which was only temporarily put to sleep.
It’s hard to know what happens in voters’ minds. However, it would come as no surprise if a share of the anti-systemic vote that went to Golden Dawn last Sunday moved to SYRIZA in the second round. This type of voter is, above all, interested in condemning the leadership of New Democracy and, to a lesser extent, of other parties.
Some might be tempted to interpret all that in theoretical terms. They might perhaps turn to Russian political theorist Alexander Dugin’s “Fourth Political Theory.” Dugin, a popular promoter of the creation of a Eurasian empire, sees an alliance between communists and nationalists as a historical necessity in the fight against liberalism and globalization.
Developments in Greece are not really animated by doctrines of this kind. As is usually the case during times of crisis, alliances follow less orthodox patterns. After all, the voters of the German Communist Party initially joined the Nazi Party while a good number of former French communists have backed Le Pen’s National Front.
For their part, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos have over the past two years been forced into an uneasy alliance that has been relatively successful. That said, Samaras’s decision to throw New Democracy’s weight behind Yiannis Sgouros and Giorgos Kaminis for Sunday’s runoff vote is a test for the conservative voter.
In the eyes of New Democracy voters, Sgouros, the incumbent Attica governor, is a man of the bad old PASOK. Kaminis, on the other hand, embodies the reformist left of the Simitis years – which is, too, a nonstarter for conservatives.
Convergence at the top does not necessarily have a unifying effect on the grassroots level. For the time being, and much thanks to the efforts of its enemies, Golden Dawn could end up with a kind of kingmaker status, despite the criminal charges against its leaders.