I sense that Greece’s next elections will be a bit like the first elections of 2012. Back then, the country’s political and media establishment were shocked at the rise of anti-systemic parties SYRIZA, Golden Dawn and Independent Greeks (ANEL). Only a few people realized that the ruling elite had lost its political legitimacy because a big chunk of the population saw their economic status decline sharply and, in their own mind, inexplicably. For the first time, people could not find the answer on the internet, on social media, on trashy late-night talk shows or the alternative news media. Among the anti-systemic politicians of the time, Panos Kammenos and his nationalist populist ANEL were very efficient in adopting the recipe of Donald Trump, even before the US president did.
What we have now is a bizarre political scene. Most antisystemic politicians have become pretty much systemic, at least in the eyes of a part of the public. Try as they may to maintain their maverick style, the power, the compromises and the undelivered promises are too many to ignore. It’s hard to say how many voters out there still believe in the anti-bailout narrative and the existence of some political alternative even after the costly lesson delivered by the SYRIZA-ANEL administration.
Young and dejected Greeks without meaningful prospects can still be heard talking about fringe figures like Kyriakos Velopoulos or Zoe Constantopoulou. Perhaps we’ve grown better at taking the pulse of the people outside our narrow environment. Frustration appears to be driving some young people towards new and, in their eyes, more original groupings. It is worth keeping in mind that a large part of the population gets its information from questionable news sites and blogs, TV channels and other unreliable sources.
It should be added here that the anti-systemic wind is blowing hard across the United States and Europe with the political insanity and over-the-top rhetoric that we are witnessing. Greece was hit first but its experience will soon be nothing in comparison.
The next election will obviously be a battle between the two leading parties, New Democracy and SYRIZA. The conservatives seem to have consolidated their lead. But we may well end up with a crazy Parliament with parties and politicians that will make the House unpredictable, to put it mildly.