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SYRIZA takes lead and Left gains momentum

Sunday, 03 Jun 2012

Analysis
by YIANNIS MAVRIS*

It appears that the parliamentary elections of 17 June will serve as a continuation of and follow-up to the momentum of the polls held in May. Momentum which increases the possibility of a party of the Left scoring an electoral victory for the first time since World War II. Understandably, such a development, namely the clear lead of left-wing SYRIZA, may seem quite unfamiliar to a large segment of Greek citizens and not necessarily only those conservative viewpoints. However, although conservative New Democracy is not leading (in Public Issue’s opinion polls), the belief among the majority of the electorate is that it “will win the elections”. Characteristic of this – only ostensibly – ‘paradox’, is the fact that the same belief is shared even by 4 in 10 (38%) current SYRIZA voters.

ND’s electoral limits

The limits of New Democracy’s electoral resonance have become apparent. The reasons for the crisis of the conservative bloc are more permanent and will not easily be resolved. ND’s initial electoral strengthening, observed during the first week of the current brief post-election period, does not appear to be increasing further. This strengthening was primarily due to the absorption of Democratic Alliance and LAOS voters as well as, to a lesser extent, small gains from the camp of ‘anti-Memorandum’ right-wing voters who, on 6 May, had preferred Independent Greeks and Golden Dawn. Apart from a possible slight contraction of the recently formed (neo-liberal) ReCreation Again, there appears to be no other pool of potential voters for ND. Despite false hopes to the contrary, the ideological and political aversion to the Memorandum on the part of a sizeable segment of conservative voters has continued. In this respect it is noteworthy that the estimated voter support of Independent Greeks has contracted mainly to the benefit of SYRIZA and less so in favor of ND. One possible explanation is the following: In conditions of widespread condemnation of the Memorandum, both within and outside Greece, it stands to reason that this will be to the benefit of the par excellence and authentic representative of the ‘anti-Memorandum’ pole, namely SYRIZA, rather than ‘last-minute’ critics of the bailout package.

Broadly diverse current of electoral support

SYRIZA’s post-election momentum is clearly stronger, not only than that of ND, but also in comparison with the pre-election trend seen working in its favor during the final two weeks of the run-up to the recent ballot. After the May elections, this social current has taken on the characteristics of an electoral leap and now constitutes a phenomenon that is precisely described by the term ‘structural break’. With regard to party preferences, the widespread electoral current in favor of SYRIZA appears to be broadly diverse: It absorbs a considerable segment from the general pool of Communist Party of Greece voters, the majority of voters of small formations of leftist protest (ANTARSYA, leftist groupings not represented in Parliament, NO, Ecologists Greens), but also the greater portion of the right-wing anti-Memorandum protest (Independent Greeks, Golden Dawn). Lastly it has also attracted a stream of voters who had chosen to abstain in the elections of 6 May.

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

Date of publication: 3/06/2012
Publication: Newspaper “KATHIMERINI”