The reasons that led to ruling SYRIZA’s big defeat in the European and local elections are numerous. They include the natural political fatigue after four years in power, the displeasure at the behavior of Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis, the voter abstention, which mainly concerned disenchanted SYRIZA voters, the loss of voters who chose parties and initiatives to the left of the ruling party, and mainly toward MeRA25, the party formed by former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.
However, there was also one more big mistake, which came at a national and social cost that surpasses political parties and elections, and that is the toxic class division of society between “us” and “them.” It was preceded a few years ago by the equally wrong and unacceptable statement “Either we finish them, or they finish us.” This division of the Greek people, which poses a dangerous threat to the country’s social cohesion, took a very clear form during the election campaign, with the clash between the “many” and the so-called “elites.”
I am assuming that, based on this thinking, the third of society which voted for New Democracy in the European election represent the few or the “elite.” It is the same “elite” that has elected the overwhelming majority of regional governors and mayors, even in middle- and lower-income municipalities such as Aegaleo and Korydallos. It looks like we are faced with a strange, mass elite.
Furthermore, if one adds the votes secured by parties to the right of ND, their total percentage nears 50 percent. Therefore, we come to the somewhat irrational conclusion that the “others,” the ones the government wants to “finish with,” the so-called “elite,” happen to be half of Greece’s population. I don’t know if this division was one of the main reasons for SYRIZA’s defeat. What is certain, however, is that it was the wrong strategy – and this was proven at the ballot box.
One side of the political spectrum believes in and implements a strongly redistributive economic policy, with benefits and handouts, which is unavoidably implemented at the expense of not only the very rich but also the middle class. It is a choice with historical references and specific social and political targeting. The other side promotes a policy of creating jobs through private investment. It’s a policy which also has a wide appeal – not just in the wealthy districts, but also in lower-income areas – as shown by the election results.
The class warfare approach and the populist effort to divide Greeks was wrong and unnecessary. In our democracy the people are presented with two different political and economic programs, and they will make their choice.