PASOK emerges as the real big winner

PASOK emerges as the real big winner

One of the most muted elections since the restoration of democracy ended with a very loud bang on Sunday, with incumbent New Democracy winning a clear mandate for another four-year term (with the second election in June almost certainly being nothing more than a confirmation) and main opposition SYRIZA living up to the saying that if you don’t work for a thing, things won’t work out for you.

The popularity it earned from widespread public anger and frustration during the crisis turned into losses once things settled down. And even though it was right about a lot of things in its criticism of the government, the opposition’s tone and attitude alienated a third of the voters who had supported it in 2019. It is the only second-placed party that is at risk of dropping to third place in a single term, and that is while facing what it described as “the worst government since the restoration of democracy.”

The most resounding message from Sunday’s ballot was addressed to SYRIZA: Change your tune before it’s too late – if it isn’t already. Its old-hat slogans like “the people remember” and “the masses suffer and starve” or its constant sniping at the government put off voters who have all sorts of problems to deal with but have already seen that anger is not the solution. They expect more from the government, but also from the opposition.

There is another phenomenon worth noting: the boost in popularity for former PASOK officials who have moved to rival parties

PASOK was definitely Sunday’s big winner, as the socialist party appears to be rallying voters who veered to the left during the angry years and has a good chance of winning back those that left for the right if it plays its cards right. But there is another phenomenon that is also worth noting, and that is the boost in popularity seen for former PASOK officials who have moved to rival parties.

Kyriakos Perrakakis, who was with PASOK in 2012-2016 before moving to New Democracy, came first as MP for Athens’ First Constituency, earning 20% more votes than the popular Vassilis Kikilias. In Western Athens, Michalis Chrysochoidis snatched first place from a representative of a historic conservative family, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis. Angelos Tolkas, Symeon Kedikoglou and Theodora Tzakri were the only SYRIZA candidates to be elected, and to come first, in Imathia, Evia and Pella, respectively, while in Piraeus’ Second Constituency Yiannis Ragousis came second, as did Christos Spirtzis in Eastern Attica.

What their being elected shows is that PASOK continues to have very deep roots in society, but it also justifies the decision to drift closer to the center by the leaders of the country’s two top parties. The overtures to PASOK by ND’s Kyriakos Mitsotakis and SYRIZA’s Alexis Tsipras were vindicated at the ballot box and this is something that needs to be kept in mind in the weeks ahead.

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