Electoral law games

Since the 1980s, PASOK has asserted the need for a single center-left front in an attempt to embrace the Left Coalition (Synaspismos). It has done so once again, on the occasion of the «mutually beneficial» cooperation between the two parties in the recent local polls. What PASOK has never clarified is whether it wants to form a coalition government with Synaspismos, or whether it wants to retain this form of cooperation until it results in absorption of Synaspismos’s voters. Until now, PASOK’s embraces have been purely at the expense of Synaspismos, which is always anxious to reach the requisite 3 percent threshold for parliamentary entry. On Monday, Synaspismos leader Nikos Constantopoulos was straightforward: First change the election law, and then we can talk about political alliances. This is a tough condition. In adopting a more proportional electoral law, the ruling party would relinquish the chances for an absolute majority for itself or for New Democracy. (Costas Skandalidis revealed in Sunday’s Kathimerini that the government intends to introduce a more proportional system for the election after the next one.) The evidence suggests that PASOK intends to lure Synaspismos with a new election law that will favor coalition governments. In the next elections, of course, PASOK will try to win an overall majority, in which case Syanaspismos would be excluded from Parliament and put on hold for the subsequent elections to reap the fruit of the new law. Also, PASOK’s strategy foresees the prospect of an ultra-rightist party that will undermine the power of ND. The consequences of PASOK’s toying with the electoral law are uncertain. Greece has no tradition of coalition governments, while past experience was associated with periods of political instability, ineffectiveness and ill-governance. The cost of political expediency is a heavy one.