SYRIZA, Greece’s leftist opposition party, has every right to celebrate over the outcome of the first round of elections for Attica governor. About one-third of Greeks cast their vote in this part of the country and the outcome sets the tone ahead of the run-off next Sunday.
SYRIZA’s candidate Rena Dourou came first – albeit by a small margin – a result that opinion polls as well as analysts had failed to predict.
Similarly, the leftist party’s candidate for Athens mayor, Gavriil Sakelaridis, has moved into the second round where he will face incumbent Giorgos Kaminis, who beat him by a tissue-thin margin.
The port city of Piraeus did not match the trend. SYRIZA’s candidate there, Theodoros Dritsas, ended third – but Piraeus is indeed a special case.
So as far as the Attica basin is concerned, these elections defied safe predictions and even the exit polls were in error. That said, SYRIZA’s showing is no cause for triumphalism.
At the same time, figures coming from the rest of the country tell a different story. Across Central Macedonia, the Peloponnese, Thessaly and Crete, SYRIZA failed to score more than 20 percent. In Thessaloniki, the SYRIZA-backed candidate suffered a heavy defeat and incumbent Mayor Yiannis Boutaris will almost certainly be re-elected.
Something quite similar occured in the western port city of Patra, where the candidate for the lefists came in at third place.
In this sense, what we saw on Sunday was more or less a repeat of the trends that we saw in the general elections of 2012, when Attica voted in a much different manner to the rest of the country. Of course there have been a few exceptions here and there compared to then, as local authority elections do tend to hinge quite strongly on who the candidate is and how he or she is regarded.
The third and most worrying phenomenon is that the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party appears to be consolidating its position. This was the only party to increase its percentage, despite everything that has come out into the light regarding its criminal activity. This means that a portion of the Greek public is racist and espouses the fascist ideology, and the support for the party is clearly not just an expression of discontent with the government. This is something that the country’s democratic forces need to take into very serious consideration indeed.
Therefore, in short, the results of the first round of local elections did not satisfy SYRIZA’s expectation but nor did they herald the result of the European Parliament elections.