More instability looms for Greece

Posted on January 26, 2015


It is not only the European Union and the European monetary zone that face turmoil following the Greek elections where the leftwing Syriza party won the greatest support. Greece itself is unlikely to remain stable, since Syriza remains a minority party supported by fewer than 40% of the electorate.

And instability in Greece, along with a possible moratorium on the country’s huge debt, would have a direct effect on the EU and the Euro zone, with a possible knock-on to other deeply indebted countries such as Italy Spain and Portugal. This, in turn, would have a ripple effect on the global economy.

The fact that the Syriza party has 148 seats in the 300-seat Greek parliament is a result of an undemocratic system devised to overcome the instability of coalition governments. Under this system, only 250 parliamentary seats are voted for. The party that gains the highest number of votes is automatically given an additional 50 seats.

The electorate gave Syriza 99 of the 250 seats while a clutch of mainly copnservative parties gained the rest. Even with the 50 additional seats, Syriza was still short of a majoriity and has formed a coalition with the Centre-right Greek Independents. All that seems to unite the two parties is opposition to the austerity programme foisted on Greece by the EU.

The majority of the parties in the Greek parliament, including the long established and authoritarian Communist Party (KKE) are, in social and economic terms, to the right of Syriza. The outwardly fascist Golden Dawn that has been involved in street brawls and in attacking immigrants, scored just over 6% in the poll, giving it 17 seats.

Given the economic instability and social melt-down in Greece along with the history of bitter ideological struggles, including the brutal military rule of the colonels, a minority government of the Left looks extremely fragile. The pressure already being applied by ratings agencies and international lenders will almost certainly fuel a conservative backlash.

Posted in: Commentary