Home » today » News » Confirmation at the ballot box

Confirmation at the ballot box

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis smiles as he walks to a meeting with President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Monday morning to receive the exploratory mandate to form a government after New Democracy’s successful performance on Sunday. [Orestis Panagiotou/AMNA]

The May 21 election caused a small earthquake. The size of New Democracy’s win and the collapse of SYRIZA were much greater than all predictions and the contest will no doubt go down as a milestone in the country’s electoral history. Whether it will also signal a period of a radical reshaping of the political landscape, similar to 1977 or 2012, is something that will become apparent over the next few days.

Despite the surprising results, however, the May 21 ballot was an election of confirmation. It confirmed the trends that have been recorded for a very significant time now and appeared to have become consolidated in the past seven years. It confirmed the rule that elections are won by the candidate who has a clear strategy and emits the best message, in the best way, via the best channels. It confirmed those who claim that Greek society has put the economic crisis behind it, and with the crisis, all the political and communication strategies and rhetoric that defined it.

Sunday’s election has thrust SYRIZA into a maelstrom that may determine its very existence

New Democracy has emerged as the second government in the history of this country to become more popular in the contest for a second term than it was the first time around, after PASOK in 2000, something made even more remarkable by the fact that this happened under a system of simple proportional representation. ND accomplished what it did by capitalizing on its success in several crucial areas (unemployment, investments, digitization of the state, the country’s power, reducing the pile of delayed pensions etc), but also by strategically tapping into a strong social demand for political stability.

For SYRIZA, in contrast, the May 21 ballot was a resounding strategic defeat. This was the result not of mistakes made during the campaign (which defined the scope of the loss), but of the fact that the leftist party failed over the past four years to communicate with a more politically moderate audience and attached itself to a hardcore, fanatical audience and had a warped understanding of the real situation in the country. Fundamental strategic choices proved an absolute failure for the party, such as the introduction of the electoral system of simple proportional representation (which led to its own downfall), such as focusing its criticism of New Democracy personally on Kyriakos Mitsotakis and, most importantly, its obsession with using practices and rhetoric that belong to the previous decade on a society that has moved past such things. Sunday’s election has thrust SYRIZA into a maelstrom that may determine its very existence. And given that we’re heading back to the polls in a month’s time, it will have to address these mistakes in a very dramatic atmosphere.

Lastly, PASOK’s rise – despite the strategic challenges of balancing between the two poles – opens up an opportunity to claim a leading role in the broader center-left.

A new election is on the horizon, as is another big win for New Democracy, with an outright majority. In the meantime, the country’s political stage is in for a whole lot of change.

Eftychis Vardoulakis is a political and communication consultant.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.