|Establishment Strikes Back||
8 July 2019
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
Greeks went to the polls yesterday after the Syriza government called a snap election after losing badly in the European elections. The Greek voters had turned to Syriza as the currency crisis ground the Greek economy down, shrinking it by a quarter between 2008 and 2016. The party failed to reverse the austerity imposed by the country's creditors, and they have paid the price for it. New Democracy will have an outright majority in the Greek lower house. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will leave office immediately to be succeeded by Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Syriza came to power because the established parties in Greece bungled the currency crisis and could not figure out how to move forward. The people turned to Syriza, which was newly founded, because they hoped new faces in new places would be the key to changing the future of the country. It did not happen.
However, it did suggest to the established parties, and certainly to New Democracy, that recruiting beyond the old-boy network could bring some benefits. The Guardian reported, "Not since 2007, two years before the debt-burdened nation descended into economic crisis and prolonged recession, has New Democracy had such presence in parliament. Many of its MPs will be first-time politicians, men and women who were drawn to the party's pledge to re-energise the economy by attracting foreign investment and creating jobs after four and a half years of often rollercoaster leadership under Tsipras."
While the votes are still being counted, one of the protest parties remains on the edge of representing people in the parliament. New Dawn, a neo-fascist faction, is hovering just under 3% of the vote, the threshold a group must pass to win seats. If it does win some seats, the New Democracy majority will be reduced,
So what is next for Greece? Mr. Mitsotakis has his work cut out for him. He served as PM before, and the New York Times says "Mr. Tsipras pushed through some privatization, cut pensions, raised taxes and trimmed spending to meet stringent fiscal targets. But the Greek public sector, often criticized as bloated and as slowing down innovation and entrepreneurship, was not revolutionized. Now, it will fall to Mr. Mitsotakis to cut it back and modernize it, if he can."
Given his absolute majority, he can ram through just about any program he wants, but it must happen within the context of continued Greek participation in the EU. Grexit is no longer a threat, but the European Union's rules will continue to get in the way. The Italian government has violated some of these rules with excessive spending, and it may yet pay the price for that. Nevertheless, the spending does seem to address the demands of the Italian electorate. New Democracy may not face spending issues as it is right of center, but other rules may constrict options.
However, the populist wave in Greece seems to have crested. Four years of populist government sailing against the tide of economic reality has given the voters pause for thought. This journal, a few years ago, supported Syriza as the other parties in Greece had failed. Syriza now appears to have come up short while New Democracy has revitalized itself.
So be it. That is the nature of political parties. And in two years time, if New Democracy has delivered, Greece and Europe will be better off. If not, there are elections looming yet again.
© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.