Monday, September 21, 2015

Two thoughts on the Greek election

My first thought is that I have always argued that the Greek referendum and now the election were internal power plays, ways in which Tsipras was trying to consolidate his power within his party and in government. This good instant reflection from Cas Mudde agrees:
The only reason that PM Alexis Tsipras called for the September elections was to weed out the (real) radicals from his increasingly misnamed Coalition for the Radical Left (Syriza). Faced with a parliamentary faction of at least one-third 'dissidents,' i.e. MPs opposed to the third bailout and the more moderate course of Tsipras, he by and large called a Greek election to solve a Syriza problem.
The second is a propensity for the media to exaggerate. They love a disaster story and the, often described as "inexorable," rise of Golden Dawn is a goody. Read some journalists and you would think that there are storm troopers on every corner and that the facile comparisons with the Weimar Republic were true. This narrative frustrates people in Greece, especially those that work in some branch of tourism who worry that potential visitors are put off. Mudde nails this exaggeration too:
While it remains disturbing that a political party that has an anti-democratic ideology and has been involved in endemic violence is the third largest party in the country, all the opportunistic and sensationalist warnings of a huge rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn have predictably proven wrong. Its modest increase is mostly an effect of the combination of a remarkably loyal support base and a lower turnout (see below). It is clear that roughly 5 percent of the Greek population supports Golden Dawn, accepting that it is a violent neo-Nazi party, and will almost always come out to vote. But this makes Golden Dawn less like the French Front National, a party that has systematically broadened and increased its support base, and more like the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), catering to a devoted but relatively stable subcultural base. 
After three years of the Weimar economic crisis, the Nazis were on 37%, after five years of the Greek one, Golden Dawn are on just under 7%. Greece's problems are far from over, it can be a little strange, but it's a nice place.

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