Greece: Legacy of Syriza’s historic sell-out allows Conservatives to confirm election victory

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, leader of New Democracy and prime minister of Greece (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

As expected, the second round of the Greek general election has resulted in the main party of Greek capitalism, New Democracy (ND), winning an outright majority. To the delight of capitalist commentators internationally, the result confirms that the ND leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, will continue in office as prime minister, without having to count on the votes of any coalition partner.

June 2023 Greek General Election Results (held under different electoral legislation to May 2023):

New Democracy: 40.4%  = 157 MPs (May 2023: 40.8% 146 MPs)

Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) : 17.8% = 47 MPs (May 2023: 20.1% 71 MPs)

Pasok (social democrats): 12.4% = 33 MPs (May 2023:11.5% 41 MPs)

KKE (Greek communist party): 7.4% = 20 MPs (May 2023: 7.2% 26 MPs)

Spartans: 4.7% = 13 MPs (May 2023: did not stand)

Hellenic Solution: 4.6% = 12 MPs (May 2023: 4.5% 16 MPs)

Niki: 3.8% = 10 MPs (May 2023: 2.9% 0 MPs)

Course of Freedom: 3.1% = 8 MPs (May 2023: 2.9% 0 MPs)

MeRA25: 2.3% = 0 MPs  (May 2023: 2.6% 0 MPs)

Turnout: 51.2% (May 2023: 61.1%)

[See full election results here:]

After New Democracy (ND) fell just short of an overall majority in May’s ‘first round’ of elections, Mitsotakis opted for an election rerun. He knew that it would be held under different electoral legislation that gave additional ‘bonus’ seats to the largest party.

The outcome of this second round had already been widely seen as a foregone conclusion. The only questions were by how much ND would further increase their margin of victory over the Syriza opposition, and which of the smaller parties, from left and right, would make it over the 3% threshold required to have any MPs elected.

Voter turnout fell to only a little over 50%, showing just how many Greek voters had little faith in any of the politicians’ promises after yet more weeks of election broadcasts and empty sloganeering. From those that did vote, there was no further swing toward Mitsotakis. But the former left Syriza, which betrayed so many workers’ hopes when in government it capitulated to the bosses’ EU and markets and introduced new brutal cuts, fared even worse than before. The once mighty Pasok failed to pick up many more votes at Syriza’s expense, again polling at around 12%.

However, having been let down by parties who claimed to be ‘socialist’, it’s no surprise that some disenchanted Greeks voted for the far-right. Nationalist ‘Hellenic Solution’ again won enough votes to be allocated MPs in Parliament. They will be joined by the religious nationalist, ‘Niki’, and by the ‘Spartans’, previously a largely unknown far-right group. The Spartans were backed from a prison cell by Ilias Kasidaris, a former leader of the neo-fascist ‘Golden Dawn’, after his own party was excluded from the polls. The Spartans success shows how such a ban, proposed by New Democracy and backed by Pasok MPs in the previous Parliament, ultimately ended up aiding the far-right, by boosting their supposed ‘anti-establishment’ credentials.

On the left, ‘MeRA25’, the party led by former Syriza Finance Minister, Varoufakis, again failed to exceed the 3% threshold. However, another split from Syriza, ‘Course of Freedom’, led by Zoi Konstantopoulou, once the Speaker of the Greek Parliament under the Syriza government, just managed to do so.

The KKE (the Greek Communist Party), with just 20 MPs, will be the main left-wing voice in the Greek parliament. The KKE leader, Dimitris Koutsoumpas, actually came second behind Mitsotakis in a June 2023 opinion poll of party leaders’ personal standings. Unlike Syriza’s leader, Tsipras, who is now seen by many workers as just another politician who has abandoned his principles, Koutsoumpas comes across as a genuine voice opposing all the parties of capitalism. But the KKE has not been able to attract mass support across the Greek working class so as to fill the vacuum left by the betrayals of both of the former left parties, Pasok and Syriza.

As is the case internationally, Greek workers will need to overcome the setbacks and betrayals of former left parties to build a new mass workers’ party. If the Greek working class can create a leadership ready to match its traditions of struggle, with the global economy heading for a crisis, the smugness of the Greek capitalist class at the re-election of its political representative, Mitsotakis, could yet be short-lived.

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June 2023