July 8, 2019 finds Greece turning the page, as the political landscape changed radically after the results of Sunday’s election.
Greece leaves four and a half years of leftist rule behind. The Alexis Tsipras government promised change and the end of austerity, but followed the path of its predecessors maintaining the ills that brought Greece to the brink of bankruptcy.
- Greeks gave conservative New Democracy a clear mandate and a comfortable overall majority with 158 MPs. The party’s leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is obligated to succeed in bringing the Greek economy to the path of growth and put an end to the anomie that plagued the country the past four years. All Greeks have their eyes on him, and every move of his will be scrutinized and criticized.
- SYRIZA lost the election, but the party stood on its feet, getting more than 30 percent of the total vote. The party remains strong and Tsipras an undisputed leader.
- In his departing speech, Tsipras said he will be a responsible opposition leader and hinted that he wants to take the center-left with him to form a “progressive alliance”.
- It remains to be seen if his ultimate goal is to move to the center and claim leadership of a wider centre-left.
- The Movement of Change (KINAL) fared better than in the 2015 elections. Its leader, Fofi Gennimata, is trying to revive the old Socialist PASOK by adding new blood. Getting rid of the high-profile party member Evangelos Venizelos was a daring move that finally paid off. The party is 22-MPs-strong now.
- One waits to see if Tsipras will try to take KINAL MPs with him in the long run. So far, it is very unlikely.
There are two newcomers in the House, leaving everyone wondering how will they act from their parliament seats.
- Yanis Varoufakis is known from his stint as finance minister during the disastrous first six months of the SYRIZA-ANEL (Independent Greeks) coalition. His party – DiEM 25 – has nine seats in parliament and one can only wait for wild theories on the economy than plausible solutions.
- Varoufakis appealed to those leftists who wanted out of the Eurozone and dream of a Greece free of debt without repaying it. He also appealed to the hard leftists who saw Tsipras as a traitor who succumbed to the material perks of power.
- The Greek Solution of Kyriakos Velopoulos is the replacement of Golden Dawn in the House. Velopoulos is a devout rightist and anti-communist. He got 10 seats in the new Parliament, but he is not a man to be taken seriously. Velopoulos is a TV salesman selling everything from books with conspiracy theories to ointments “blessed by the monks of Mount Athos” that cure everything from cancer to hernias. He topped his charlatan tactics when he advertised himself as the only man on earth who has in his possession original letters written by Jesus Christ himself.
- The Greek Solution in the House is the proof that 10 years into the crisis there are still Greeks who believe in magical solutions to their woes.
- Golden Dawn is out of the parliament, getting 2.93 percent of the vote. The criminal activities of some of its members exposed during the trial for the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas, discredited the party.
- The Centrists’ Union is also out of the new Parliament, showing that Greeks are polarized and the centrist party looks rather lukewarm to them.
- Finally, the Greek Communist Party (KKE) remains a steady voice in the House getting the same percentage (5-6) as in the past three decades or so.