New parties on the block. Which are the new parties in the Greek Parliament and what they stand for? By Spyros Kouvoussis
Today, 6th of May, elections for the parliament are taking placing in Greece. The austerity measures imposed through the two consecutive bail outs forced the government to call in elections. Since the Memoranda have been into practice support for the two main parties has dropped heavily leaving them from 80% in 2009 to almost 40% in the recent polls. New parties have emerged since then and older parties claim enough votes to enter the parliament forming completely different scenery than in 2009. In this article I will make a short presentation over the smaller parties and their programs.
In the left, we have Syriza, the Communist Party, the Democratic Left a right-wing split of Syriza, Antarsya (which means “Revolt”) and the Greens. Although they are not the only leftwing parties taking part in the elections these are the parties most likely to enter the parliament. The oldest party is KKE (the Communist Party of Greece), founded in 1918 and remains one the few hard liner Stalinist parties in Europe. It is against the Memorandum but has repeatedly denied any kind of cooperation with any other leftwing party. The last two months its rhetoric is mostly focused against Syriza which thinks is its greatest enemy because for the first time ever it is likely to receive more votes. They have declared that they do not want to govern and they do not want to take power, even on their own. Polls give them 8-12%. Syriza, a coalition of parties and movements, calls for the formation of a leftwing government. Its main proposals are to stop paying the debt, freeze the Memorandum, tax the rich and cancel all laws related to the Memorandum. Up to know its leader has called many times the CP to cooperate in order to form an alliance. Recent polls have shown that such an alliance would score up to 20-25%, only a bit behind the Conservatives who come still first. Polls give them 12-15%. Democratic Left is a right wing split of Syriza. They are also against the Memorandum but they have said that since the treaty was ratified by the Greek Parliament cannot break. I don’t know how sincere is their anti-Memorandum stance since they have declared that if in office they will try to present other forms of taxation and income for the state but not that they will cancel the Memorandum. Polls give them 6-8%.
Antarsya and the Greens are not represented in the Parliament at the moment while both are close to receive 3% of the voted needed. Greens are also against the Memorandum but their rhetoric has targeted legal aspects of the Memorandum. It is true that according to Greek law and Constitution, several laws deriving from the Memoranda are not quite constitutional. Also they have stood many times against police brutality. Polls give them 2,5-3,5% making it hard to predict whether they will enter the Parliament or not. Antarsya is also a coalition of parties and movements, at the moment the most leftwing party with chances to enter the parliament. Their main proposals are cancelling the debt and the Memoranda, nationalization of banks and big industries under workers control, planning the economy, leaving Euro and the EU. Polls give them 1,5-2,5%, making it less likely than the Greens to enter the parliament.
On the right, things are less complicated. Laos, Independent Greeks and the Democratic Alliance and Golden Dawn are the right wing parties. Laos was founded in early 2000’s. Its agenda is economic liberalism and social conservatism along with an anti-immigrant rhetoric. They voted in favor of the first Memorandum and in late 2011 entered the government. That was a crucial point since the effects of the Memorandum made them lose a lot of their support. While signing the second Memorandum, their leader learnt about polls that showed that his party was about to stay out of parliament in next elections and in a matter of hours changed his opinion dragging the party out of the government. It was as far as I remember the most significant U-turn in recent Greek politics. His voters didn’t like it so it is not sure if he will make it to the parliament. Polls give it 2,5-3,5%. Independent Greeks are a right wing split of the Conservatives. Its leader has been a prominent member of the Conservatives for over 20years until he was deleted from the party when he voted against the second Memorandum. Its program consists mainly of extreme corporate welfare (e.g. total tax relief for companies whose employees are 50% or more Greeks), social conservatism (the police should be granted special rights to draw its own policy on internal affairs), economic liberalism and patriotic-pro-Orthodox rhetoric. On the Memorandum issue claims that they will “decide which part of the debt is legal and repay only that percentage”. Polls give it 5-7%. Democratic Alliance is the neo-liberal party of Greece, formed from an ex-member of the Conservatives who was deleted for voting in favor of the Memorandum. Keep in mind that the Conservatives claimed they were against the first Memorandum but in favor of the second. DA is the equivalent of the Liberal Democrats in Germany and they are strongly in favor of the Memorandum. Polls give it 2-2,5%. Golden Dawn is not a party but a Nazi gang. Their “program” is attacks and killing of immigrants, selling drugs and working with different Mafias. They are openly Nazis and they have received support from people who live in the centre of Athens and are fed up with rising crime and petty-theft. In the past they have been funded by the two main parties and they have strong ties with the police and especially the secret and the riot police. Polls give them 5-7%.
If you made it to this point without suspecting what I would vote means that my goal to present the parties and their programs objectively is reached. If you did suspect what I would vote for, please leave a comment indicating where I was subjective. What I would vote for would be a coalition of the Left. Since that coalition does not exist I would vote Syriza.