Is there something we know now that we didn’t before last Sunday’s elections for the leadership of the new center-left party? I think so.
To start with, the impressive turnout was in itself a powerful message of opposition to the government, sent by some 210,000 people. Sure, we had public opinion polls telling us the same thing (despite all the questions that arise from them), but now we have a tangible sample of centrist voters who are telling both leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and conservative opposition chief Kyriakos Mitsotakis, “Don’t take us for granted.” The problem is greater for Tsipras and his government, of course, because this was the last pool of voters SYRIZA hoped to draw from and the sheer size of the turnout bodes ill for the premier.
Secondly, the failure of Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis and To Potami chief Stavros Theodorakis to make it into the second round this coming Sunday indicates a fact that many would rather not acknowledge: that the voters of the reformist center have already moved to Mitsotakis’s camp, not just because he is a liberal but also because he looks like the likely winner of the next elections. There is no center-left force that can avert the inevitable.
Thirdly, we got solid confirmation of the center-left’s supporter base as more than half of last Sunday’s voters are aged 55 or over. The poor turnout in terms of young voters was equally striking – and blatantly apparent to anyone who stood in line at the ballot box. That said, I don’t think the problem lies entirely with PASOK and the new party. SYRIZA’s rise to power was associated with a renewed interest in politics and civic participation on the part of younger age groups; now it seems that disillusionment with the government narrative and disappointment at the high unemployment figures have made the country’s young voters indifferent and cynical again.
Finally, we again saw that the extent to which social media reflect actual trends in society at large is zero to none. All you’ll find there is closed groups of like-minded people who don’t appear connected to anyone else.