The recent 2019 European Parliament election in Greece took place on May 26th, leading to severe consequences in the political status of the country. Even though the opinion polls over the past few months have been enlightening as to what was about to happen, the Greek Government of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA for short) seems to have been taken by surprise. Their main opponent, New Democracy, received an impressive 33.12% whereas SYRIZA only got 23.76%. As a result, the former will be represented in the European Parliament with 8 seats and the latter with only 6, from the total 21 Greek seats.
The remaining 7 seats have been taken by 4 other political parties (The Movement for Change – KINAL has received 2 seats, the Communist Party of Greece 2 seats, the Golden Dawn has received 2 seats and the Greek Solution has been the ultimate surprise, gaining a seat at the European Parliament). From the results, it looks like the far-right party of Nikolaos Michaloliakos has lost a significant part of its power. In the previous European Elections held in 2014, they had received 3 seats at the Parliament with a percentage of 9.4%; now they only got 4.88% and this has been a straightforward declaration of the Greek people, applauded by Greek politicians as a whole.
Upon realizing the clear victory of the liberal-conservative New Democracy over SYRIZA, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras felt that the results were to be interpreted as deep distrust on behalf of the Greek people. Therefore, he expressed his will to call for Greek Legislative Election. He argued that the results did not reflect the will of the people to knock down the Government, rather than a “wake-up call” for SYRIZA to intensify their efforts to relieve the people of the negative consequences deriving from the deep economic crisis and the continuous memoranda. So SYRIZA did not get a vote of confidence from the people, resulting in the declaration of early elections instead of the coming fall.
Elections 2019 in Greece
There have been rumors for even earlier elections in the end of June, but they have been disproved. Elections have been set to take place on July 7th, 2019. And the stakes are really high, with Europe keeping a close eye on what is going on in Greece once more. Voting is mandatory for Greek people, although there is always abstention from the elective procedure. In 2015, just 56.57% of the registered voters actually voted, in a tensed time for Greece.
Reasons behind the defeat for SYRIZA
As for the reasons leading to the defeat of SYRIZA in the European Elections 2019, strong debates have already been sparked. Experts have been trying to identify what has caused so great changes. Among the most striking causes have been the following:
- Prespa Agreement, where Greece has agreed to the name of North Macedonia despite the intense disapproval of the Greek people. This has been an issue of debate for decades and Mr. Tsipras did not want to avoid confrontation any longer.
- Memoranda have taken their toll on the Greek people, with ongoing increases in taxations to keep up with the demands of EU. Even though Greece exited memoranda and surveillance in August 2018, the people did not have the time to realize the improvements that are about to take place.
- Natural disasters and tragic events that took place over the past years. 2018 Attica wildfires led to the tragic amount of 102 deaths and the Government has been accused of not acting properly in terms of prevention. Similarly, there have been floods in Mandra, Nea Peramos and Megara of Attica back in 2017.
- Some members of the Government have been accused of inappropriate behavior, with Pavlos Polakis being the most striking example. He had caused unanimous discomfort, due to his tweets and lifestyle.
- The Greek Government has started relieving the people through monetary benefits, which was something that backfired against them. Some citizens regarded these measures as a scheme to bribe them, in the light of the coming elections.
The deterrent power: Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis should not be underestimated. Coming from an esteemed family with an impressive political background, he has been the Leader of the Opposition in Greece since 2016. Having served at the Greek Parliament for over 15 years, Mr. Mitsotakis is no stranger to the situation in the country.
As the leader of a liberal-conservative political party, Kyriakos Mitsotakis has a totally different view of things, when compared to the Prime Minister. This has been the motto of his rivals over the years, after all. SYRIZA represents the majority of the society, whereas New Democracy reflects the power of plutocracy (the lucky few with enough funds to change the world). But this is only theoretical.
Although the family name has been a source of criticism for Mr. Mitsotakis and he has been accused of nepotism, there are many who regard this to be one of his major advantages. A family name so strong and “heavy” that can make a difference in the global political scene. Only time will tell.
Can the situation change?
Well, let’s face it; the European Elections 2019 have been a slap on the face of the Government in Greece. The difference in percentages is extremely high. Even though there is still some time, a little over a month, to overturn the current status, it most likely is not enough. New Democracy knows that and the politicians on that side have already started making plans.
On the other hand, if there is one person who knows how to fight and turn the odds in his favor, this is Mr. Alexis Tsipras. Many experts had been considering him “defeated” even before winning the elections back in 2015. And then again, when negotiating with the Eurogroup, he was regarded as a failed politician that would not last long. But still, it is June 2019 and he is facing another political challenge. Only this time, (and who would have thought?), things are looking even harder than before…