Unholy alliances

The conservatives’ decision to introduce a 42 percent threshold for the election of local government officials – common in single-party governments – instead of the typical runoff between the two leading candidates for 50 percent of the vote, is a welcome move. PASOK had long avoided changing the electoral law as the old system worked in its favor. The deadlock after the first ballot often resulted in opportunist alliances between PASOK and left-wing parties. PASOK avoided pre-election partnerships based on common policy declarations and party tickets. Socialist officials anticipated that ideologically sympathetic voters would pick PASOK’s candidates over some right-wing rival. For their part, left-wing parties overestimated their role, asking for too much in return. In place of common programs and rational alliances, we got blackmail and monstrous deals. Fortunately, the consequences of the electoral law have eased of late. Leftist voters are less willing to support PASOK candidates and are increasingly turning to conservative candidates in the runoff. Similarly, New Democracy voters would rather vote for a candidate from the Synaspismos Left Coalition or even the Communist Party than see PASOK win. The good thing about the apparent easing of the prescribed consequences of the current law is that the gradual disappearance of political prejudice and traditional dividing lines has come from below – that is, from the people. PASOK’s protests against the proposed changes are groundless, as the new measures actually encourage cooperation between parties. For if a party thinks winning 42 percent unachievable, it will cooperate with another party, presenting voters with a common platform. Perhaps, this is exactly what PASOK is afraid of.