The balance of expectations in politics

A few weeks before the test of the elections for local government and the European Parliament, our political scene is very fluid and, at the same time, stationary. The fragmentation of our politics has reached the point where – even though everything is possible – the lack of dynamism from any quarter has resulted in a strange equilibrium of conflicting forces. This works in favor of the government, which is continuing to negotiate with our creditors the final chapters of the memorandum against a backdrop of the first wary signs of economic recovery. We shall see whether this situation will last until the elections.

It is notable that just the announcement by journalist Stavros Theodorakis that he was starting a party – To Potami, or the River – was enough to make him a political player. Before presenting a platform, before announcing the names of members, before answering any questions, the first poll to include Potami found it was in fourth place among the country’s political parties. The ALCO poll (conducted between February 27 and March 4 for NewsIt.gr) found also that Potami appears to be drawing voters from all parties – except the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn – in the following order: Democratic Left (12.8 percent), Independent Greeks (12.1 percent), PASOK (8.1 percent), SYRIZA (7.7 percent), New Democracy (1.9 percent) and the Communist Party (1.1 percent).

An immediate conclusion is that many citizens are looking for something new and are prepared to support a party simply because they have a positive opinion of its founder. It is worth noting that whereas most of Potami’s support appears to come from the center-left and left, it also draws from the right-wing, populist Independent Greeks. The speed with which these people switched allegiance indicates that they may switch back again just as quickly if they are disappointed, or that many more may follow once Potami begins to produce political ideas and attract notable personalities. It is useful to remember that the initiative of the 58 intellectuals from the center-left had a similar dynamic when it was first announced but ran out of steam when it delayed acquiring a face and specific presence.

Clearly, citizens are looking for something new. At the same time, the parties leading in the opinion polls remain stable, with main opposition SYRIZA beating governing New Democracy by a small percentage. (Golden Dawn is in third place.) But even though it’s leading, left-wing SYRIZA does not seem to have convinced people that it will gain enough in the Euro elections to make New Democracy’s position untenable, thus forcing national elections. Also, New Democracy cannot be pulled down by the drop in support for its coalition partner PASOK. As long as the situation remains stable in our economy and society, our politics, too, will be reasonably stable. This may even last until the spring of 2015, when Parliament will be unable to gather the 180 votes needed to elect a new president of the republic, in which case national elections will be held. By then, however, the ferment and the search for alternatives will have created new proposals and new political formations.