Mitsotakis is strengthened by the political domino

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is certainly strengthened by Greece’ political domino.

Leaving 2020, one can only stand on one peculiarity.

In the remarkable resilience of the ruling New Democracy (ND) government a year and a half after the elections, something unusual for the political life of the country, especially in the unpredictable conditions and in the turbulent times we live in, is observed.

To date, almost all polls give the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis similar percentages to those of the July 2019 elections, and at the same time record an impressive difference of 16-17% from opposition party SYRIZA (December 2020, MARC, Metron Analysis, Pulse).

Never before, at least in the last twenty years, has an election-winning party maintained its electoral performance for a long time.

For example, the ND of Costas Karamanlis, who in March 2004 won with an impressive 45.4%, in only twenty months (December 2005) lost 10% of its electoral percentage.

Even worse, ND, which had won the elections of September 2007, a year and a half later (December 2008) lost fifteen points from its electoral percentage.

For George Papandreou’s PASOK, which won the elections of September 2009 with the emblematic 43.92%, just nine months later (May 2010), had already lost seventeen whole points.

And somewhere there everything changes as ND and PASOK slowly enter the margins.

From the meager 29.6% that Antonis Samaras’ ND got by winning the elections in June 2012, in less than a year (May 2013) they lost eight and a half percentage points.

Even more impressive, however, is the deterioration of the (until then incorruptible) SYRIZA, which had won the elections of September 2015, with the support of Panos Kammenos.

According to opinion polls at the time, it took just five months (January 2016) to lose almost half of its electoral power. It was the government with the biggest and fastest deterioration.

And in fact with ND, which in the meantime had changed leadership, to gradually increase its percentages and to have a clear lead over SYRIZA.

Already from February 2016, five months after the victory of SYRIZA in September 2015, an MRB survey gave a clear lead for ND with a percentage of 26.9% against 23.2% of SYRIZA.

One month after the Pulse poll, it gave a difference of 6 percentage points in favor of ND (31% against 25% of SYRIZA), while in May 2016, a poll by the University of Macedonia gave ND 25.5%, compared to 17.5% of SYRIZA.

With the sole exception of the high turnout of the elections of July 2019, when SYRIZA had a glimpse of 31.5% – as was the case with ND in June 2012 – there was nothing special about the recovery of its electoral impact.

To this day, its percentages in almost all polls are stuck in the 20% zone away from the electoral performance of July 2019.

However, one carefully reads the percentages of the two parties over time in the polls, one sees something really interesting.

The striking resemblance of ND in 2007, which in a year and a half after the elections lost almost half of its electoral power, with SYRIZA in 2015.

Costas Karamanlis’ ND since the 2007 elections, had to spend thirteen whole years, to change four presidents (K. Karamanlis, Ant. Samaras, V. Meimarakis, K. Mitsotakis), to go through fire and iron, to redefine itself politically and recover in 2019 with 39.9% for Mitsotakis.

A small exception was the elections of June 2012, when under very special circumstances, ND reached just short of 30% (29.66%).

Mitsotakis deliberately downgraded the relationship with the right-wing (after all, a large part of this space cooperated with SYRIZA in government) and invested in the left-wing adjacent space of the liberal center and social democracy.

A move that certainly involved risk for Mitsotakis, but which as a result proved to be successful.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

In the case of SYRIZA, the heavy electoral defeat was not met with the reflexes one would expect from a party that was distinguished for its flexibility in political alliances and the comfort of changing face and policies.

Apart from questioning the polls and the invocation of bias against them from the media, little has been done in the direction of reviving its policy of repercussions.

This is evidenced by the ease with which SYRIZA uses today the outdated and less convincing accusatory speech.

Today, SYRIZA, a prisoner of its hardcore political party leader, Alexis Tsipras, seems to have limited room for maneuver.

Tsipras of 2020 has nothing to do with Tsipras of 2015!

But there is something else.

In a recent poll (published in the Journal of Authors on December 3), 64% of SYRIZA voters prefer the electoral alliance with Yanis Varoufakis’s MERA25, compared to only 27% who would choose SYRIZA’s alliance with the Movement for Change.

Although this finding is politically paradoxical, from an electoral base too tolerant of the alliance with Panos Kommenos, it also shows the narrow margins of Alexis Tsipras’ moves today.

In any case, SYRIZA has a very difficult way to go. However, the good thing for SYRIZA is that as long as KINAL (PASOK) is stuck in low single-digit percentages, SYRIZA in one way or another will survive politically.

If at some point the KINAL (PASOK) space is revived politically, this will automatically mean the return of SYRIZA to the Stone Age.

Conclusion… As long as KINAL remains shrinking to low single-digit percentages, SYRIZA will survive. And as long as SYRIZA survives, Mitsotakis’ ND will have a predictable opponent!

The intention to vote is not an evaluation of the government or Mitsotakis, nor is it a kind of rating for their work.

It is the “preferred” choice of those who are the sample of the poll.

Even if it is not a very good government, as long as it is a significantly better choice than its main rival, it is enough for Mitsotakis!

After all, it is a tradition in Greece for the vote to often have the character of a protest.

The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Greek City Times.

Takis Spiliopoulos is a correpondent for Proto Thema.

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