“If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain”. If one’s will does not prevail, one must submit to an alternative. So it happens with Mr Varoufaki’s analysis on the Greek election result whereby he tries to make a majoritarian political case for his personal economic view against the bail-out program.
According to Mr. Varoufakis, “while 55% voted for parties that stood explicitly against the ‘bailout’ terms and conditions, a pro-’bailout’ government is about to be formed – such is the nature of Greece’s electoral system (which rewards the largest party with a bonus of 50 additional MPs in the 300 seat chamber).“
Not disregarding the problematic nature of the super enhanced proportionality principle of the Greek electoral system, the actual election result data tells quite a different story. One where there is no contradiction, but rather a clear-cut result. The pro-bailout “noikokyraioi”, though marginally, have won this round of the class warfare in Greece.
In a highly polarized double election (May 6, June 17), with a pre-electoral period which lasted for more than two months, two fundamental dilemmas were formed:
- Drop the bailout program unilaterally or amend it through renegotiation
- Stay in the Euro or return to the Drachma
Accordingly Greek society was split in half. Two major social blocks rallied around those dilemmas and two political poles appeared representing the views and interests of every block.
On the winning side stands the social block of the so called Europeanists, made up by the “noikokyraioi”, that is the core of the middle classes in medium sized urban centers, provincial and rural Greece, people of a middle and older age, housewives and farmers but also liberal minded knowledge workers, entrepreneurs, as well as private and public sector workers and professionals with savings who feared a possible Grexit.
All these people demanded a return to political stability, assurances that Greece will stay in the Euro no matter what, continuation of the economic adjustment program, if possible with renegotiation of the terms of fiscal consolidation.
It is the “noikokyraioi” who won June’s election by voting for ND (29.7%), PASOK (12.3%), the Democratic Left (6.3%), the Liberal Dimiourgia Xana (1,6%) and the right wing LAOS (1,6%). This political multiparty pole scored an absolute electoral majority (above 50% of the total vote) and a parliamentarian majority of 48.2% between ND, PASOK and the Democratic Left, since the smaller two parties DIXA and LAOS did not pass the 3% threshold and therefore did not make it into parliament. This is the biggest parliamentary majority backing an elected government since 1974. Leader of this pole is the Conservative New Democracy party.
On the losing side stands the social block made up by the precariat class (young people who previously made up generation 700 Euros and are now looking into not having a job at all, precarious workers below the age of 51, the unemployed), as well as the insecure private and public sector workers, and self-employed living and working in the recession hit, decaying, crammed with irregular migrants and criminality ridden big urban centers.
They demanded a cancelation of the Economic Adjustment Program and hoped for a new politics against austerity, against recession, against foreign dependency and more than anything against the old political class.
It is voters of this social block who rewarded electorally the radical left wing party SYRIZA (26.9%), the extreme right wing Independent Greeks (7.5%), the ultra nationalist – fascist Golden Dawn (6.9%) and the Communist Party (4.5%). In absolute electoral percentage terms the second multiparty pole got below 50%, while in terms of parliamentary representation (excluding the parties that did not make it into parliament) they got about 45.8%. Impressive no doubt, but far from being a social majority as Varoufakis claims, not to mention winning the election.
Under the light of the above data, it is more than fair to argue that whoever implies, three days after the national election has taken place, that the governing coalition and the seats it has got in parliament are inconsistent with the will of the electorate, is either uninformed or wicked.
The June elections in Greece produced a clear result, a government backed by a social majority, though marginal, and a wide support in parliament. Whether this government will succeed is a whole different story, as is the suitability of the terms and conditions of the Economic Adjustment Program in helping Greece to exit the crisis. Evidently the program needs many adjustments. More than anything, Europe needs to choose a different economic path, away from the Lutheran moral economic dogma of Merkelian ordo-liberalism. This is not to say though that we social democrats and progressives must turn a blind eye to democracy’s fundamental rules.