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FEPS article: Elections’ assessment, the day after

The outcome of national elections of January 25th reflects the demand of Greek citizens to end the dominant policy of austerity imposed by the conservative forces in Europe during the years of crisis. The last coalition government didn’t manage to balance properly between fiscal consolidation and its social consequences making SYRIZA the majority power in the Greek Parliament.

The dramatically high unemployment rates, the constantly changing tax environment to the detriment of small and medium classes, without at the same time tackling tax evasion, the legislative and institutional reforms of the system of collective bargaining having a negative impact on salaries and working conditions and of course the violent changes of the social security system have shaped the conditions to increase social inequalities and to disrupt social cohesion.

The unjustified “success story” that Nea Dimokratia (EPP) tried to present a few months ago with the return of Greece to the markets, which did not reflect the reality of the Greek people, strengthened the government's credibility crisis. This does not mean that the real successes that country made thanks to the sacrifices of the Greek citizens should be ignored. Avoiding bankruptcy, having primary surplus and the return of the economy to positive growth rates are undoubtedly important benchmarks of the coalition government.

The strategy of "fear" that Nea Dimokratia followed during the election campaign and the simultaneous political shift to the right in order to approach the voters of extreme right parties fueled the climate of polarization between ND and SYRIZA. PASOK’s plan, for a national understanding and cooperation that aimed at the conclusion with the best conditions the negotiations of the final phase of the Greek program and the procedures for a debt’s settlement, was eclipsed.

But among the most mistaken choices during the election campaign, was the decision to ignore the electoral growth and social influence of Golden Dawn, the criminal with the neo-Nazi organization, which in the last elections showed remarkable results. The political management undertaken by Nea Dimokratia throughout the previous period against the holistic approach proposed by PASOK since 2012, undoubtedly formed the basis for its legitimacy. It has also to be noted that, those who gave the decisive impetus to its voters in the final stretch towards the polls was members of the extreme right wing of Nea Demokratia who used slogans from the civil war (1946 - 1949) fueling memories of a nightmarish period.

Within this polarized climate, and despite the fact that since 2009 PASOK alone has shouldered the burden to reverse the fiscal derailment of the Greek economy, which had been driven by the disastrous government of Nea Dimokratia (2004-2009), was still challenged both from the right and the left due to the economic crisis. The reality on the financial situation of the country, which was described by PASOK, was eclipsed by SYRIZA’s populist strategy. PASOK’s plan for a stable path of exit from the memorandum was retreated by the destructive nihilism presented by SYRIZA.

In this new coalition government SYRIZA has first of all to face itself: the decision to collaborate with an extreme right wing party, Independent Greeks, for populist reasons; its excessive commitments, which have nothing to do with the real possibilities of the Greek economy. Commitments, which several times were contradictory to its others, as he promised everything to everyone and which is likely to remain unfulfilled forcing him to turn to the logic of national consensus. Finally, he has to overcome the bad habits of the safe position of the Opposition, from where, for many years- long before the crisis – it fought with denunciatory attitude and sterile negation and critique each and every reform and it has to prove that it is able to govern.

Clearly this new environment holds significant challenges for all political forces. Especially for us, PASOK, which is the main representative of European social democracy, has to discuss in the Congress all the factors that brought us face to face with the contraction of the party. Among the primary goals has to be the restore of our relationship with society, emphasising on the representation of social demands and needs in this new era. It is essential to form a modern progressive government plan, a new narrative able to answer all questions related to important aspects of society, economy, institutions and everyday life. It is of the same importance to break with all forms of pathogenicity and at the same time adopt a different ethic policy framework. Only through this route PASOK will be able again to represent a broad social base and once again become a leading political force in the place.

By Nikos Androulakis, Secretary General of PASOK, Member of the European Parliament

 

Read the entire focus on Greek elections: Is it now Greece against Europe?

FEPS European Progressive Observatory: The objectives of the European Progressive Observatory are to create a virtual progressive European public sphere and to encourage an open debate with new opinion but also comments in reaction to.

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