Calamos Supports Greece
GreekReporter.comGreeceGreek Government's Attempt to Change Electoral Law a Simultaneous Smoke Screen and...

Greek Government's Attempt to Change Electoral Law a Simultaneous Smoke Screen and Strategy

tsipras_happy_web-thumb-largeIn April, when the Greek government was ready to sign the painful memorandum with lenders in order to close the bailout program review, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called the plenary claiming he will reveal all the names of corrupt Greeks who led the Greek economy and society to shambles.
Greek society waited with bated breath to hear the names, to read the corruption list. Yet, in parliament only the name of a big newspaper publisher was given, without any proof or evidence that indeed the man had done something illegal. The parliamentary session turned out to be a spectacular fiasco. Yet, it served as a great distraction at a difficult time for the administration.
Now, after implementing the harshest austerity measures, slashing pensions and wages, raising taxes and taxing everything but the air Greeks breathe, the SYRIZA government started a campaign to change the electoral law. The claim is, again, more democracy. Another vague claim among the many heard every day from government officials and SYRIZA MPs. Proportional representation — a sort of Holy Grail for the Greek Left — is heard like a mantra on a daily basis.
The electoral law change is obviously a smoke screen at a time when the vast majority of Greeks are caught between indignation and despair. It also serves as a handy propaganda tool to curb the rise in popularity of New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has a solid lead in opinion polls.
With 45 percent of Greeks not bothering to vote in the September 2015 election, now that their wallets and cupboards are even emptier, proportional representation is probably the last thing on their mind.
Yet, SYRIZA officials are using the electoral law change as if it was a matter of life and death. They do so to fight New Democracy, claiming that their refusal of proportional representation is because they want to preserve the corrupt political system. They present the conservative party as the enemy of democracy and people’s will.
At the same time, their insistence on proportional representation is a communication trick to show disgruntled leftist voters that Tsipras and company are still the leftist stalwarts of yore, the brave fighters against capitalism and the Right. It remains to be seen how many leftists would be convinced of the new show of political integrity.
Tsipras needs 200 votes in parliament to change the electoral law. He has 153 from SYRIZA and ANEL MPs and another nine from the Centrists Union. The prime minister was counting on getting the 13 from PASOK. New Democracy and To Potami have been against the proposal from the start.
On Monday morning, even though Tsipras is in China, he still got a slap in the face after PASOK chief Fofi Gennimata stated publicly that her party will vote against the proposal.
What remains is the two extremes of the political spectrum, the communists (KKE) and the ultra nationalists (Golden Dawn). Both parties would benefit from proportional representation by getting more seats in parliament. Yet, KKE chief has not promised to vote in favor stating he is very suspicious of Tsipras’ ulterior motives. Similarly, Golden Dawn MPs are not likely to help a leftist government. And even if they did vote, how comfortable would Tsipras feel if he passed the law with the help of a party he has called neo-Nazis?
So, it is impossible for Tsipras to get the 200 votes needed so that the new electoral law applies in the next election.
Being a tactician though, Tsipras might try the 2012 recipe: Go to elections immediately, without proportional representation, when New Democracy would not be able to form government along with a small party. If there is no government formed, elections should be held again. But this time, the vote will be with proportional representation because New Democracy chief has promised that if he became prime minister he would bring back the bonus seats for the winning party.
Tsipras aims at an electoral system that would not allow his opponent to form autonomous government and at the same time give the second party the opportunity to form government with allying parties. The prime minister wants to create alliances within the center-leftist forces that would help him be the head of a multi-party government. It is historically proven that center-leftist alliances in Greece are more popular than center-rightist alliances.
In September, when creditors will return asking for changes in labor laws and other austerity measures in order to complete the second bailout program review, the pressure on the government will be high. It is likely that the plan would go in effect in the fall, when Tsipras and SYRIZA will be at the receiving end of Greek people’s indignation, even rage, after the harsh bailout program measures have sunk in.

See all the latest news from Greece and the world at Contact our newsroom to report an update or send your story, photos and videos. Follow GR on Google News and subscribe here to our daily email!

Related Posts