OPINION

The end of the two-party era?

Elections have been called for May 6. Meanwhile, polls show both New Democracy and PASOK have lost a considerable part of their power. Some have even expressed fear the two parties will be unable to garner the necessary votes to form a coalition. If this actually happens, the post-1974 political system will see its definitive demise.

It is doubtful all these events will actually take place. The election outcome will most probably result in a coalition formed by the two main parties. If nothing else, the prospect of chaos will have a rallying effect on both, but neither will be able to govern alone.

Perhaps the two-party system in Greece has been dealt a final blow too. This is a result of the fragmentation of the center-right, the country?s largest political formation. Had the conservatives remained in one piece, a commendable left-of-center party would have to emerge as a coalition partner since the Communist Party has ruled out engaging in any power-sharing agreement.

This is not the time to decide who is responsible for the center-right?s fragmentation or feel sorry for the way political things have turned out. Even countries like the UK are now being governed by a coalition.

It is easy to understand why — against all reason — both ND and PASOK insist on the need for a one-party government. Our political leaders got used to operating in conditions of head-on confrontation, as it was only through a system of absolute control of the state mechanism that they could cater to their patrons? needs. Yet beyond the proclaimed — and unattainable — target of a one-party government, ND and PASOK officials are expressing the need for the two parties to jointly garner over 50 percent of the votes, in order to have the legitimacy to implement the second memorandum they voted in Parliament. They have a strange perception when it comes to the representative system. Only three ?popular majority? governments have been elected in postwar Greece. All others were ?popular minority? governments, but that did not prevent them from reaching crucial decisions.

The fear felt by the leaders of both parties in connection to the reactions which will be seen after the elections with the implementation of new measures and the ongoing recession is understandable. But no one forced them to demand early polls. They will have to suffer the consequences. They will have to invent new political theories as the administrators of decisions agreed with the troika and they will be worn out on an intellectual level too It will be good for them, if they survive.