The elections are over and now the winners and losers need to manage the result. The European Parliament ballot gave the government enough votes to continue governing, while the main opposition got a more powerful position from which to push. The smaller parties will try to build on their success or retreat to lick their wounds. General elections, when they take place, will reflect the momentum that builds between now and then.
The New Democracy-PASOK coalition government got the message it expected – one of popular discontent. But even though both parties lost a part of the vote they received in the general elections of 2012 they were not harmed to the extent that they can no longer govern. What the government needs to do now is fix the wrongs but also appear to stay on course and resist the blows coming at it from both left and right. Mistakes need to be fixed and injustices reversed. The government needs to appear fair and stable, showing that is it putting the interest of citizens above all others. The prime minister’s statement on Thursday that he will stay the course of stability suggests that he is not toying with the idea of early elections.
For SYRIZA, the European elections allowed it to establish itself as force to be reckoned with and to put to bed the excuse that it is a party that represents just 4 percent of the electorate. So long as the party has the role of a strong opposition it is not obliged to clarify all of the gray areas in its policy: It is neither in power nor in a state of decline so there is no reason for centrifugal forces to be released. The differences between the party’s factions can be controlled by the sweet wait for power.
SYRIZA’s biggest challenge is exactly where it will exercise power, in the region of Attica. What it does there will show whether it can meet the challenge and whether its officials have what it takes to deal with real-life problems. Any failure will have a corresponding damaging effect on the party.
Golden Dawn, meanwhile, finds itself in the unique position of having seen its power grow despite its leader and top officials are facing criminal charges and the public being aware of its actions. Clearly its voters want to express themselves through the neo-Nazi organization regardless of what they know of it. But this may also mean that Golden Dawn has reached its ceiling.
For To Potami (The River), the result of its first electoral contest was positive, though we will see whether its impact can be more lasting after its June 27-29 founding congress. For Democratic Left, the time has come for it to decide who it will team up with because the lonely road proved very lonely indeed. Independent Greeks face the dead end of an indistinct political identity and may feed the pool of independent MPs who will wait to see what kind of new forces emerge on the political scene. Combined with overall stability, the current state of fluidity may prove valuable.