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Is the Greek electoral system to blame…

…for continuing the current crisis?

Usually the last thing to consider in a crisis of the kind that Greece and Europe face is electoral rules. But here is why they matter. Politically Greece has always been divided but since the 1970s nearly always enjoyed single party majority government within a two-party system. Although Greece uses PR subject to a 3% threshold for election, the Greek system allows for the largest party to get a bonus of 40 seats (increased to 50 seats in 2012). This was supposed to guarantee stability and one-party government. It worked well when each of the large parties had around 40% of the vote. Today’s inability to form a government is partly due to the fact that the largest party, New Democracy (ND) gained the normal 50-seat bonus but on a far reduced share of the vote at 18.9%.

 

Table: Greek election results 2009 and 2012 compared



2009 elections

May 2012 elections

Party

Party type

% vote

seats

% vote

seats

KKE

Communist

7.5

21

8.5

26

Syriza

Radical Left

4.6

13

16.6

52

Dimar

Radical Left

-

-

6.1

19

PASOK

Socialist

43.9

120+40

13.2

41

ND

Centre-Right

33.5

91

18.9

58+50

ANEL

Right

-

-

10.6

33

LAOS

Religious right

5.6

15

2.9

0

ChA

Neo-Nazi

0.3

0

7.0

21

 

 

What we see in Greece is a fragmentation with the entry into parliament of three new parties: Dimar (on the left), ANEL (or the right-wing Independent Greeks opposed to austerity), and the Neo-Nazis of Golden Dawn (also on the right). We see the very significant growth of Syriza, the radical left movement, and a huge decline for ND and PASOK. Without the 50-seat bonus, it is impossible to know if a government would have been formed. There would certainly have been a majority for the left-wing parties if PASOK had been prepared to form an anti-austerity government with the parties to its left. Likewise, without the 50-seat bonus, there would have an anti-austerity majority if ANEL had been able to make an agreement with the radical and Communist left. Whereas the 40 or 50-seat bonus was once a factor for stability, it is now a factor for instability.

Posted on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 02:33PM by Registered CommenterDr Giacomo Benedetto | CommentsPost a Comment

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