Whether a tradition or simply a bad habit, we have trouble finding a loser in any electoral race, a party leader who will openly concede defeat without trying to mitigate it with excuses. The winners, meanwhile, whether actual or imaginary, are equal in number to the contestants, all of whom, of course, claim to be going after different trophies.
The same is happening today. The clear winner is SYRIZA’s Alexis Tsipras, even though the lack of a majority has compelled him to seek a partnership with the – also triumphant – leader of Independent Greeks, Panos Kammenos, something that certainly does not sit well with true leftist voters who backed the leftist party.
The fascists of Golden Dawn are also winners, unfortunately, even though its percentage dipped. The leader of Potami, Stavros Theodorakis, is also a winner even though the party missed its target of third place. The Greek Communist Party (KKE) feels triumphant too, if the smile on the face of party leader Dimitris Koutsoubas is anything to go by; he obviously did not consider that the party’s supporters may not have been so delighted by the opportunity missed by the left, which reduced them to the role of spectator or even detractor. PASOK’s Evangelos Venizelos felt like a winner simply for beating George Papandreou and his new party, while the latter congratulated himself for even taking part in the elections. Vassilis Leventis of the Union of Centrists and Apostolos Gletsos of Teleia were obviously triumphant considering they garnered nearly 2 percent of the vote each. Even Fotis Kouvelis of Democratic Left hailed the change, assuring voters that he played some part in it.
Nevertheless, it would have been hard to imagine that the time would come when the leader of the conservatives would use the same excuse always given by the parties of the left to explain their lack of progress: “We survived under extremely tough conditions.” If the rather vague term “tough conditions” is used to justify failure, “we survived” goes even further: It is used to seek praise just when strict criticism is what is in order and allows for smugness when self-reflection would have been the more honest response.
New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras not only chose to use this tried and tested excuse, he also shook off responsibility for the defeat by saying, “New Democracy survived.” He went so far as to stress that his party shed just 2 points in Sunday’s elections compared to 2012 as a way of lessening the blow of defeat. If he really wanted to feel like a winner, he should have compared New Democracy’s current 27.8 percent to the 22.8 percent it received in European Parliament elections last year. Five points up. Score!