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Return to discontent

Monday, 12 Sep 2011

The short-lived euphoria of 21 July

Analysis by

YIANNIS MAVRIS*

The ‘rallying effect’ created in the ruling party’s favor by the agree-ment of 21 July, thanks also to the wholehearted support of the me-dia, lasted for just two weeks. The social and political ‘euphoria’ generated by the deal turned out to be ‘momentary’. At the onset of the new political year, the ruling party has in effect reverted to the same weak condition that characterized it in July. At the same time, the political and social climate remains particularly heavy, not only relative to last September but also to the pre-election September of 2009, when PM George Papandreou’s predecessor suffered a crushing defeat.
Moreover, it should be noted that this September measurement of the Political Barometer was completed on the same day the new measures were announced, which means it does not incorporate the (anticipated) impact of the social tension they will produce. It is certainly not irrelevant that the index which tracks citizens’ expectations regarding social strife in the coming three-month period has reached a record high (88% of respondents expect increased social protests).
The ruling PASOK party’s overall inability to recover is attested not only by the fact it trails behind the main opposition ND party in terms of estimated electoral support (28%, against 32%), but is confirmed by almost all key parameters of party and electoral competition. In these conditions, the government is once again attempting an ‘assault on the sky ’. However, given its weakened social legitimation, the efficacy of the undertaking is in doubt and its chances of success limited.
On the other hand, the empirical data show no political dynamic in favor of the main opposition party, although citizens’ belief in its electoral victory continues to grow (+5%). Indeed, compared to the ‘normal’ July measurement, ND’s estimated electoral support shows a decline (-0.5%), or at any rate no change. Today, ND may have a clear lead in terms of voting intention (of around 4%) but its present support falls far short of a parliamentary majority, since it corresponds to only 129-140 seats in the 300-seat House.

The election issue

Although 6 in 10 respondents (59%) today continue to believe that there is no need for the holding of parliamentary elections (or expect nothing from such elections), a similar majority of public opinion and indeed an increased one (57%, +7%) is now convinced that early elections will indeed be held. The failure of the policy being implemented and the growing phenomena of meltdown is an obvious reason for this. The incapacity of the two government parties is becoming increasingly apparent in society. The fact that estimated electoral support for the two-party system continues to decline should not be overlooked. The two biggest political parties together account for 60% of the remaining electorate. While their actual support within Greek society, i.e. taking also into account the mass ‘exit’ from the electoral body (abstention) must now not exceed one-third of voters.

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*Political scientist, PhD, President & CEO of Public Issue

Date of publication: 11/09/2011
Publication: Newspaper “KATHIMERINI”