There are several obvious conclusions we can take away from Sunday’s election results. First, that opposition New Democracy triumphed with the widest margin ever seen in European elections in Greece and that it is now aiming for a similar or even greater victory in the upcoming general election.
Secondly, that ruling SYRIZA suffered a game-changing defeat. Its focus now is on staunching leaks, rallying its fighting forces and maintaining the party’s role as the second pillar of a system with two major parties by securing the greatest support possible.
Meanwhile, the elections elevated the center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) to the role of the country’s third strongest political force, though the absolute number and the percentage of votes fell short of its performance in the European Parliament elections in 2014.
Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn’s decline from third place to fifth, moreover, is a positive development for the political system and the country’s international image, though when we add the percentage gleaned by the Greek Solution party, we see the far-right garnering a total of 9 percent, which is worrying.
Former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis’ DiEM25 was the big surprise. His leftist narrative and his image as a cosmopolitan intellectual is likely to appeal to voters in the general elections to come, making Alexis Tsipras’ task that much harder.
As far as the day after is concerned, ND is looking poised to sail through the national polls after its comfortable win in the European elections, but also the regional and local government elections. Securing an absolute majority, however, remains a challenge.
If it fails to achieve this, the conservative party has two options. The first is to team up with KINAL, a development that would mean the coalition government would secure a high percentage of above 40 percent. The question here is whether KINAL leader Fofi Genimmata will be willing to enter into a coalition in order to help govern the country or whether she will want to “safeguard” her party’s center-left credentials in the trench war that will follow with SYRIZA.
The second alternative, at least mathematically, is cooperation with the far-right, pro-Christian Greek Solution, which, however, would tarnish ND’s image, both domestically but more so internationally. It would be very difficult for ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ liberal mind-set and his party’s clear commitment to Greece’s Euro-Atlantic orientation to coexist with the politics of Greek Solution head Kyriakos Velopoulos.
Hence, in the present political landscape, clinching the majority is New Democracy’s next strategic target, and it promises not to be easy.