July 15. 2024. 6:56

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Greece’s mainstream parties in crisis mode after EU elections

The EU elections’ results have disappointed all mainstream parties in Athens as Greeks turned their backs on all politicians with an all-time high abstention rate.

The ruling centre-right New Democracy (EPP) party ranked first, scoring 28.3% followed by leftist Syriza (Left) with 14.9% and socialist Pasok with 12.8%.

The high abstention rate of 59.1% raised concerns in Athens, which was higher than the EU average abstention rate of 48.9%, according to the European Parliament data.

The political impact of this is resounding for mainstream parties, none of them having reached the goal they set themselves before the elections.

Bitter victory for centre-right

New Democracy recorded the worst performance in the history of the party, losing more than 1.1 million votes compared to June 2023’s legislative elections when it scored 41%.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had set the European elections target at 33%, five percentage points higher than achieved.

In an effort to mitigate the damage, Mitsotakis is now mulling reshuffling his cabinet but ruled out following Macron down the road of snap elections. The next national vote is due in 2027.

Several conservative politicians, including the prime minister, attributed the poor election performance to the “arrogance” many government officials showed after getting 41% in the last elections.

In reality, surveys showed that soaring prices played a key role in punishing the ruling party in these elections.

Critics in Athens also suggest that Mitsotakis’ election result weakens his position in Brussels, as he was aiming to be the EPP’s main negotiator for the EU’s top jobs.

Syriza keeps falling

On the left of Greece’s political spectrum, main opposition party Syriza did not achieve “surprising” results as leader Stefanos Kasselakis projected in an interview with Euractiv last December.

Under the leadership of former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the party rose from 4% in the first decade of 2000 to 36.3% in 2015 when it took power.

In 2023, Tsipras resigned after he was heavily defeated by Mitsotakis, scoring only 17%. He was then replaced by Kasselakis.

Read more: A ‘stranger’ becomes Greek left boss, shakes political system

Although Syriza’s popularity keep dropping, Kasselakis insisted that people give him time to transform the party and he vowed to continue as party leader.

Socialist leader under question

Meanwhile, Greek socialists seem to be facing the most turmoil.

After the EU elections, influential members of the socialist Pasok party (S&D) openly questioned their leader Nikos Androulakis.

The latter had set a goal publicly to place second in the elections, overtaking the more leftist Syriza. Pasok’s failure to do so has led key party figures to call for internal elections.

A progressive front in sight?

New Democracy’s loss was not exploited by the opposition parties which together scored more than the ruling party, sparking again discussion about the need for progressive parties (Syriza, Pasok) to join forces to overthrow Greece’s conservatives who have held power since 2019.

On Wednesday, Kasselakis openly invited Pasok to cooperate on legislative proposals.

“Let’s start with that. There are issues that we can agree on”, he said.

Several Pasok members suggested similar in previous days, however party leader Androulakis has abstained from such rhetoric.

Pasok is the official member of EU socialists (PES) in Greece, however in the past Syriza’s Tsipras was invited as an observer, much to the frustration of Androulakis.

Read more with Euractiv

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