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19 June, 2019
 
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The silent vote

“It’s better if the result exceeds your expectations”

Alexis Papachelas

Alexis Papachelas

For once, the silent vote turned out to be a positive surprise. Following the results of the 2012 and 2015 elections, commentators became very cautious of heeding opinion polls. Similarly, we would take the opinions of our peers with a grain of salt, deeming that we were somewhat out of touch with society.

But as one friend says: “It’s better if the result exceeds your expectations.”

There is also, of course, the factor sudden turnaround.

On the eve of last Sunday’s European Parliament elections, a number of New Democracy MPs and shadow ministers had been predicting that the difference between the incumbent leftists and the center-right opposition would be no greater than 3 percentage points and offered assessments based on that projection.

After the first wave of exit polls was published on election day, the same people hastened to explain how they had actually predicted the real outcome already several days earlier.

Talk about New Democracy’s “poor performance” all of a sudden gave way to praise about its “amazing tactics.”

Well, politics is like that. You sometimes need to switch roles halfway into the show, without worrying about your dignity going out the window.

New Democracy chief Kyriakos Mitsotakis has once more proved that his greatest strength is the fact that he has been underestimated by his opponents, both inside and outside the party.

He operates with method, learns from his mistakes and is very disciplined.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was like a shooting star who rose to great heights fast, but made the mistake of being seduced by the red carpet treatment by foreign and domestic officialdom and falling out of touch with the average Greek.

The voters had formed an opinion well before the European elections and had decided what to vote. Everything suggests that not much will change in the national elections in July.

New Democracy will seek to form a majority government by citing the prospect of political instability. SYRIZA will try to increase its tally by 1 or 2 points, but also to avoid a sudden collapse.

Mitsotakis obviously should not be complacent and the wisest thing he can do is adhere to the dogma of zero mistakes until the elections. He is riding a wave of popularity, and in the words of one veteran politician: “If you lose one election, the citizens no longer listen to you.”

Of course, caution is needed. Selecting old-hat politicians from the time-worn parties of the past will not help. As for Greek voters, they are still skeptical. The silent vote is also a thinking vote.

It does not seek to resurrect old-style governance. It also doesn’t want revanchism. It wants a moderate and modest attitude, unity, hard work, less talk and more action.

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