Greece Votes. Again.

19 June 2012
Last sunday was the re-run from the Greek elections. The results were a lot more conclusive than last month's elections, but still no overall majority. From the perspective of Europe, it is a relief that the pro-bailout New Democratic topped the poll, but there is clear polarisation between pro- and anti-bailout factions, as shown by the relatively large share of the vote that went to the top two parties.


I don't know the mechanics of seat allocation, but to my knowledge it is a greatest-remainder method which is skewed towards giving smaller parties representation, assuming they have obtained the 3% quota for getting any seats at all. However the main point of interest is the party with the most votes is given a bonus 50 seats, on top of their proportional allocation. For a 300-seat parliament, this is a big bonus.

A side-effect of this is that pro-bailout parties have a majority of the seats on a minority of the votes, which is going to weigh heavily as this bonus was only gained by a fairly slim margin of 2-3%.

The losers

All parties apart from New Democratic and SYRIZA lost support, but I think some of this is due to differential turnouts. Democratic Left and Golden Dawn lost 2 and 3 seats respectively, but on the whole this is not much change in their representation. In contrast, the Communists, Independent Greeks, and to a lesser extent PASOK, lost a significant chunk of their representation.

Quite likely due to the austerity measures, PASOK took a hammering in the earlier elections, and in this re-run got squeezed. Austerity is not a socialist ideal, and those who voted with their heart rather than their head will have drifted off to SYRIZA. Independent Greeks are a breakaway from New Democratic, and by the looks of how this came about, there is bad blood between the two parties. Like PASOK, they also got squeezed.

The big losers were the Communist KKE, who lost over half their representation. This was clearly due to them being explicitly anti-Euro, which is not a popular policy in Greece. Support for the Euro is still very high in Greece, which is why even the other anti-bailout parties are still at least pro-Euro in public.

Likely coalition

New Democratic, having 129 votes, are 22 short of an overall majority. Given what the election was about, I don't foresee a New Democratic-SYRIZA coalition, which in practice only leaves a New Democratic-PASOK coalition a viable option. A random coalition of New Democratic with Independent Greeks and Democratic Left is an outside possibility, but I think that is a big ask given there is likely bad blood between Independent Greeks and New Democratic. Golden Dawn (look like a Greek equivalent of the BNP) and the Communists (who are anti-Euro and want the Drachma back) are non-starters.