The calling of snap elections on 7 July did not come as a surprise following the swing away from the Coalition of the Left SYRIZA party in the European and local elections. Greek voters greeted the news halfheartedly as most have been left sceptical and disillusioned following the political turbulence in the years of the economic crisis.
The Supreme Court’s announcement of 20 parties on Wednesday began a new tirade of political announcements and campaigning to woo the tired and cynical Greek voters who are left to choose from the parties below:
SYRIZA – created in 2004 from a mix of left and green social movements – shook the political establishment across Europe with its sweeping victory at the Greek national elections in 2015 on an anti-austerity platform. Up until then, the conservative New Democracy (ND) and Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) had been the dominant parties. SYRIZA’s huge win was short-lived as the party fell into disarray and called elections again in September of that year, managing to hold onto power by teaming up with Independent Greeks. The glory days must seem a distant memory to SYRIZA Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose party was dealt a blow in the European elections followed by disappointing results in the local and municipal elections. If predictions are correct, he is set to lose the 7 July elections despite having lead the country out of the bailout at the expense of the overtaxed middle class.
Great statesman Konstandinos Karamanlis founded the liberal-conservative New Democracy (ND) party following the fall of Greece’s military junta in 1974 – hence the freedom torch in its logo. His goal was to create a modern and progressive party that today stands in the main centre-right. Up until 2012, its historical rival had been the PASOK party, but unlike PASOK, it has managed to come back fighting following the economic crisis that resulted in a huge defeat by its leader Antonis Samaras in 2015. If the polls are to be believed, Harvard-educated Kyriakos Mitsotakis – a member of one of the most prominent political families – is tipped to be the next Greek prime minister after his party won 33 per cent of the votes in the 2019 European elections. He is campaigning on nationalist issues by critising the Prespes Agreement, and is also promising decent jobs, economic growth and lower taxes. He has described himself as “an ardent defender of a small and efficient state, education reform, the fight against red-tape and monopolistic practices that impede development and the fight against partisanship and cronyism in government”. The question remains as to whether he can deliver, however voters disillusioned with the populist SYRIZA are once again looking to the establishment and ND seems to be regaining lost ground.
The Popular Association – Golden Dawn has been described as a neo-Nazi and fascist group, though the party itself rejects these labels. It was not created as a party but as a pro-military junta journal, published under the name Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) in 1980. Most of its members declare admiration for dictator Ioannis Metaxas and George Papadopoulos of the Regime of Colonels that ruled Greece during the military dictatorship from 1967-1974. They made use of alleged Nazi symbolisms, praised figures of Nazi Germany and also espoused racist and xenophobic ideologies with the party’s leader and founder Nikolaos Michaloliakos openly identifying himself as a “nationalist and racist”.
In January 2015 – just three years after the elections that first thrust the party into parliament – it became the third-largest political party in Greek Parliament. However, rather than grow, it has halved its support from 9.4 to 4.88 per cent in the European Elections following numerous allegations of violence and internal strife, including arrests. Party members are currently on trial for the 2013 murder of left-wing rapper Pavlos Fyssas and the party has been banned from access to public places for pre-electoral gatherings in Athens and Thessaloniki.
The Greek Communist Party has been a small but stable force in post-War Greece. One of the oldest political parties in modern politics, it was founded as a Marxist-Leninist political party in 1918 – known as the Socialist Labour Party of Greece until receiving its current name in 1924. Banned in 1936, it played an important role during the Greek resistance against the German Occupation and the Greek Civil War. It’s membership peaked in the mid-1940’s and it was legalised following the fall of the Greek military junta in 1974. For all those years, the party has been unswerving in its beliefs, but some would say not high-profile enough to garner more than a small stream of supporters – enough to get it in Parliament. In the last European elections it managed to re-elect its two MEPs, amassing 5.5 per cent of support.
Dimitris Koutsoumbas took over as the General Secretary of the party from former leader Aleka Papariga in April 2013. His father had been a political exile and Dimitris had, as a law student, been involved in the Polytechnic uprising against the Greek dictatorship in November 1973. He later served as director of Rizospastis, the party’s official newspaper.
Former socialist PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata announced the formation of a new unified centre-left party in Greece in July 2017. KINAL (Kinima Allagis) is made up of socialist PASOK supporters combined with KIDISO (minor party affiliated with DISI), and also formerly included centrist The River and leftist DIMAR party supporters. It’s leader, Fofi, is the daughter of revered Greek PASOK politician George Gennimatas, and she served as PASOK deputy minister of health and welfare and alternate minister of education, lifelong learning and religious affairs before taking the reigns of the party in 2015. Her decision to create a new alliance was part of a bid to win back disillusioned voters after seven years of crisis that left PASOK’s popularity flagging and the country polarized. The new party’s ambition was to break the polarized political landscape currently dominated by New Democracy and SYRIZA.
UNION OF CENTRISTS
The Union of Centrists, founded by Vassilis Levendis in 1992, is a centrist liberal political party. Levendis is a popular figure in Greece, and skyrocketed to fame when he had a private channel where he outlined his views on Greek history and politics – with a glass of frappe coffee at hand. An admirer of Eleftherios Venizelos and George Papandreou (senior), he played a role in the founding of the socialist PASOK movement, but he left the party in 1982 after disagreements with the ideology that he believed diverged from its original views.
Yanis Varoufakis’ ‘Democracy in Europe Movement 2025′ (DiEM25) came a few votes shy of snatching a seat at the European Parliamentary elections after garnering 2.99 per cent of the total vote, and is now pushing for a seat at a national level as MeRA25. There are over 100 names on his ballot, including his wife Danae Stratou and Greek Australian academic Nick Papastergiadis. In Greece, Varoufakis is a controversial figure that blitzkrieged onto the political scene as a gutsy finance minister who stood up against the country’s international creditors, whereas his peers in the Eurozone saw him as arrogant and unyielding. The tide of public opinion later turned against him following the imposition of capital controls. Varoufakis’ supporters are the ones who were left disgruntled by SYRIZA in 2015 when the party made a U-turn on its pledge of tearing up the memorandum.
The acronym of the coalition of radical left political organisations of Greece, founded on 22 March 2009, means “mutiny”, and that pretty much sums up its ideology that spans over a number of left-wing currents from Maoism to Trotskyism and beyond. The party calls for exiting the EU, dropping the euro, defaulting on Greece’s debt, banning lay-offs and introducing a minimum salary of 1,400 euros (triple the current amount). Despite the tempting offers, the party has never garnered over 1 per cent of votes.
Other minor parties on the ballot include Greek Solution, Course of Freedom, Greek Ecologists, The Organization of Greek Communist Internationalists (OKDE), Assembly of the Greeks, Labor Revolutionary Party (EEK), the Marxist-Lenninist Communist Party of Greece (KKE-ML), Popular Unity (LAE), Recreate Greece and the Agreement of Political Parties.