Greek election 2015 (or should that be “2015a”?)

Greece has its general election Sunday, called early under an automatic constitutional trigger provision given a deadlock over selection of the (mostly ceremonial) president.

I ask about a “2015a” because that is how sources sometimes designate an election when it is the first of two in a given year, and it would not be surprising if another election were needed soon, under another of Greece’s triggers for early elections–deadlock over forming a coalition. Will there be a “2015b” as there was a 2012b?

Is this election being held under open or closed lists? The usual form is open, but when an election is early in the “2012a, 2012b” style, the second election is under closed lists. I assume open, because it seems the provision for closed applies not to any early election, but just to one held within 18 months of the preceding one.

Polls during the current campaign have shown the Syriza (Radical Left) party with a steady and increasing lead. If that proves correct, the country’s “bonus adjusted PR” would give Syriza an automatic 50 seats out of the 300, before allocating the rest of the seats proportionally among those parties that clear the 3% national threshold. It probably needs to win around 40% to get a single-party majority–lower, if a lot of votes are wasted on sub-threshold parties. At least one of the polls has Syria at 36%, which suggests a majority of seats is not out of the question for the party.

If Syriza emerges with 120-130 seats, it may be hard for it to assemble coalition or support parties to get it over 151, in which case a second election would loom. If it is around 140+, we might see it form a minority government that the opposition would wait for the right moment to topple.

As for the presidency, the newly elected parliament can elect a president with a simple majority. The constitution prescribes that this newly elected parliament must complete this task before forming a government (see Art. 32:4), which means the parties may make trades among presidential selection, government formation, and policy priorities, if there is no party with a majority.

21 thoughts on “Greek election 2015 (or should that be “2015a”?)

    • It’s still unclear, but Papandreou appears not to have cross the threshold. Syriza may yet get an absolute majority; if not, the best coalition partner may be the right-wing anti-austerity Independent Greeks.


  1. Euronews has live updates. I am sure many other news organizations do, as well. As I write this, exit polls were just released, and it looks possible that Syriza will have a parliamentary majority, or be very close.


  2. According to one of the updates at the Euronews live page, “If the election winner does not receive [a majority of seats], the leading party will have three days to strike a deal and form a coaltion government.” Otherwise, the second party is given a chance (also for three days).

    Three days? Is that the shortest window any constitution allows?


  3. Greece’s Ministry of the Interior has live 2015 election results in English here.

    I haven’t had much time lately to deal with international elections since my return to Puerto Rico’s State Elections Commission last November, but unless I’m mistaken it looks like SYRIZA is very close to securing an absolute majority: with nearly a quarter of the vote tallied, it would win 97 of 250 PR seats, plus fifty bonus seats, for a total of 147 of 300 seats – four short of an overall parliamentary majority.


    • And Greece’s Ministry of the Interior 2015 election results website now includes a distribution of parliamentary seats based on the votes counted so far, which confirms that SYRIZA is currently set to win 147 of 300 seats in Parliament.


      • I checked the most recent votes, and with almost all the votes in, the final count is 149. So SYRIZA needs just one other party to get a majority in Parliament.


  4. It looks like it will be easy for Syriza to form a government as it will be a few seats short of a majority. Will it get it’s Agenda push through with it’s coalition partners? Looks like a realignment of the political spectrum in Greece. Is this reinforced PR system comparable to a manufactured majority FPTP system? Is it worse or better than FPTP?

    Does anyone know why Greece’s Constitution bans private not for profit universities? Has Greece been reformed? Has Greece done the reforms it needs? Is this the end?


    • Banks in the EU North make loans to the EU South that should not have been made. When the loans don’t perform, they ask their governments to force countries in the EU South to pay the debt, the whole debt and nothing but the debt. Governments in the EU North then assure the banks that they can party like it’s 1929 and the banks so party. Somehow forcing the debtor countries into absurd regimes of austerity has come to be called reform, but it strikes me that it should have a quite different name.

      We are told about the excesses of the Greek economy, but not that creditors outside the country have made and are making considerable profits from those excesses.

      The logical thing for the debtor nations to do is declare bankruptcy.

      Unfortunately creditors hate bankruptcy and equally unfortunately governments listen to creditors. Capitalism is supposed to be about risk and the consequences of bad decisions are supposed to encourage good decisions in the future. The European banks are demanding the right to make bad loans and have government backing that frees them of all risk.

      No-one is about to argue the Greek political class have covered themselves in glory in this saga, but the EU leadership has not done a whole lot better. A less Byzantine political structure for the EU would probably have led to much better outcomes all round.


      • Southern EU governments aren’t being forced into anything. They could indeed, as you suggest, default, but what hinders this most of all is that this would almost certainly mean leaving the eurozone. Instead they have been bailed out, something that the Northern EU states first forswore, in return agreeing to end their fiscal profligacy, fraudulence and work more seriously to combat corruption and tax evasion. I can’t imagine what’s wrong with calling such long-overdue measures (especially painful because overdue) reforms.

        Northern EU banks, who have financed much of the bailouts, are hardly the only ones with a stake in establishing austerity and reforms in those countries – all eurozone countries have rather good reasons to fear the uncertainty involved with the break-up of the currency union. This fear they share with Greek voters, who in polls consistently support, by large majorities, retaining the euro – which is arguably a good basis for the Greek government’s policies thus far. Obviously, there’s also a majority against austerity; voter cycles or more simply inconsistencies are of course far from uncommon. But the (Northern) EU line has been that they can’t have both. We will soon see to what degree this line will hold.

        Ultimately, the root of most of these troubles was the absurdity of the common currency. But that’s another story.


    • That makes some sense. SYRIZA and ANEL differ on social issues, which are less relevant to Greece at the moment, while SYRIZA and To Potami disagree on more serious economic issues. A SYRIZA-Communist coalition is, to say the least, impossible.


      • Why is the Greek Communist party stuck in the 1950’s? Is it the only unreconstructed Communist party in Europe that wins seats in parliamentary elections? Syriza is a left party, but it is a hip one unlike the KKE. Why would the hip Syriza form a coaltion with the unhip KKE? Who votes for the KKE as it is in a serious time warp? I guess the KKE is what one would call a testimonial party, one that is never part of government, nor would ever support a government from the outside, or let alone become part of the constructive opposition.


  5. It should not be underestimated how widely and tenaciously Papandreou is hated in Greece. Apparently the PASOK campaign basically spent most of its time thrashing him and his new splinter party.

    Incidentally, the rump PASOK is led by a Venizelos, though he is apparently not a scion of the old Greek liberal political dynasty. With Papandreou’s list failing to pass the threshold, a 92-year old Greek political dynasty (the Papandreous provided three prime ministers in three generations) passes into history, at least for the moment.

    Syriza’s decision to go into coalition with the Independent Greeks rather than To Potami, despite the ideological incompatability on most issues, was surely driven by the latter being an upstart new party, possibly prone to spectacular fission, where as the the IG are relatively well-established and as a splinter of the conservative wing of ND, more experienced and thus more manageable. Since the KKE are implacably hostile to Syriza, as the latter are both open to compromise and contain former Euro-communists (which is the worse sin?), there wasn’t much of a choice in the end.

    If Sinn Féin live up to Tsipras’ expectations and become the largest part in the Republic, perhaps they can share notes on dealing with conservative coalition partners…


  6. I would imagine the Independent Greeks are similar to some other European parties that are described as right wing, like the Danish People’s Party, Party for Freedom, or Law and Justice: Right wing in social policy, but leans left in economic policy.


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