Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Greek Politics: A Step Towards the Exit

by Megan Greene

Euro Area Debt Crisis

May 9, 2012

All eyes were on France going into the weekend of May 6th, but it turns out the Greek elections have much bigger potential implications for the future of the eurozone (EZ). Last Sunday marked a seismic shift in Greek politics, in which the two main political parties—New Democracy (ND) and Pasok—together failed to win an absolute majority for the first time since the collapse of the military dictatorship in the 1970′s. The path forward for Greece is unclear, but even the best possible scenario doesn’t look good.

Leading up to the May 6th general election in Greece, opinion polls indicated that ND and Pasok had lost support to fringe parties on the right and particularly on the left of the political spectrum. Many analysts argued that voters were expressing anger with the two main parties by saying they would support opposition movements in opinion polls, but that when it came to voting day they would cast a ballot for the same two main parties as usual.

This wasn’t the case. New Democracy came in first place with only 18.9% of the vote, followed by Syriza (16.8%) and Pasok (13.2%). A record 34.9% of voters abstained, a particularly high figure for a country in which voting is technically compulsory (though according to 2001 legislation there are no sanctions for failing to vote).

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