Greece & the 8th European Parliament; More Noise & Less Influence

The World

souvlatzidika BRX


Results for the EP elections suggest an overall sceptical but pro-European, Greek public attitude. The MEPs elected on pro-/ anti-EU platforms in the backdrop of the austerity measures are largely first timers. While more than half of the seats will go to GUE/ NGL and the EPP; the rest will be patchy.  As such, it is more likely that national/ political representation will be less influential overall.  The MEPs heading to Brussels must decide which Political Groups (PGs) they will join, understand the practical workings of the Institution and form a strategy to regain votes lost to the extreme-right.

The distribution of votes highlights political fragmentation.  SYRIZA came in first with 26.5% of the vote slightly overpassing initial assumptions and the main government party ND (22.7%); that has born additional political costs due to austerity-measures implemented. Third party Golden Dawn (9%), a nazi-like outfit, maintained its share of hard-core disenchanted voters.  Newer outfits, Elia (8%), Potami (6.5%) & ANEL (3.74%) received less; the communist party (KKE) as predicted got 6%.

Where will the Greek MEPs go?  SYRIZA (6 MEPs) is Eurosceptic but its discourse aims at an “alternative” Europe rather than dissolving the project.  In a weird combo with the anti-EU KKE (2 MEPs) it will join GUE/ NGL. They will be able to influence their PG, Mr. Tsipras was its candidate for the Commission Presidency.  But it will have little influence overall in the EP: GUE/ NGL (5.6%) is unlikely to be asked/ join an alliance with major PGs. 

ND will send its 5 MEPs to the EPP and has established networks to utilize but is a small fraction of the party.  ELIA and Potami will most likely join the S&D and/ or ALDE but with 2 MEPs each and little experience less can be expected.  It remains to be seen where anti-EU ANEL will place its 1 MEP, while GD (3 seats) will be isolated along with the other extreme-right entries.

What to expect?  First, more brewing of the political soup in Greece is necessary. All parties need a larger number of voters in order to gain a substantial majority of support at the national level and establish strong political poles.

Second, MEPs will attempt raise the profile of EU wide issues that touch the South to gain voters, including those lost to the extreme-right.  SYRIZA through GUE/ NGL has much better chances, and will be louder as it attempts to turn on the heat on the national government. 

Third, the communication between national parties and their MEPs will be intense, as this is the most polarized and politicized EP ever elected.  Debates in the EP will be nationally guided & framed.

Overall, for Greece, the next few years will see the extended dominance of national level parties over their MEPs as they attempt to gain voters. A trend that should be reversed to address EU issues with the appropriate European frame. This suggests more political turbulence with little practical influence in the EP.



article re-posted from Political Science Association; Greek Politics Specialist Group: First Thoughts on 2014 Elections in Greece 

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