As it happens, only six months after January’s general election, Greece is once again faced with the prospect of another snap vote. The antics of the country’s political officials betray a desire to shy away from hard facts – and these warrant a systematic, painstaking effort to implement a program (in this case the third international memorandum) which everyone claims to be necessary, yet at the same time everyone undermines it in their own way.
January’s ballot showed that there are two dominant political forces – SYRIZA and New Democracy – enjoying between them some 60 percent of the Greek vote. However, none of the two parties appears able to secure an absolute majority.
The two parties are driven by different values, but they have to tread the same political path: the one demanded by the country’s foreign lenders. This means that stability on Greece’s political quicksand can only be achieved through cooperation between the center-right and the left either in the context of the existing Parliament or the one that will emerge from a fresh election.
In other words, the reality on the ground is making the political and ideological differences between the two biggest parties less relevant – at least for a set period of time, until some degree of economic stability has been restored.
To be sure, there are reasons to be skeptical about imposing an artificial – as it were – consensus between these two political parties. A similar thing was attempted during the time of the Samaras-led coalition: It all but destroyed PASOK while catapulting SYRIZA into power.
Furthermore, it would amount to a public confession that SYRIZA is no longer a radical leftist party, and that ND would no longer be able to act as a traditional conservative party (which has in fact been the case for the past few years). Such a move, some analysts claim, would result in strengthening the power of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and – less so – of the parties on the far left of the spectrum.
However, on the basis of the current electoral system, a collaboration between ND and SYRIZA could go on for several years. This of course on condition that the program produced some tangible results – a prospect that is deeply questioned by a substantial section of the public and systemic party leaders.
The safest way is to see different majorities alternate in power, as has happened over the recent period. In any case, we should not delude ourselves, because early elections appear unavoidable.