August 31, 2015
Bridging Europe published last Friday the first poll towards snap elections in September 20. It is very early and unsafe to provide a solid assessment, but two things are certain: first, undecided voters will define the final turnout; second, coalition government is the most probable scenario.
Alexis Tsipras is the most popular among Greek party leaders. And his personality, speech, communication strategy will largely define the performance of the party. Syriza appears weaker in the polls comparing to previous months, and especially comparing to the outstanding support that party was receiving between April and July 2015 (before July 12 and the Euro Summit). The party is struggling to convince the electorate that this new bailout deal was the “best option” the government had in order to save the country and avoid Grexit. At the same time, Syriza elections committee is building on the refinement of a parallel political agenda that will protect the most vulnerable parts of the society against the hard measures of the new austerity package. In the coming days, Alexis Tsipras and his communication team are planning to intensify their rhetoric against the old political system, focusing on the fact that Syriza has never being part of any corruption scandal during the previous decades or any of these parties that have ruined the country for the last decades. The goal is to appeal on the youngest populations, that are hardly convinced by his U-turn.
Front opposition has a chance to govern only few months after a devastating defeat last January, and another blow with regards to the outcome of the referendum. Vaggelis Meimarakis, the transitional leader of the party, counts on the disappointment of the electorate after the capitulation of the government on July 12. He also counts on this populist style and way of behaving, that tends to be attractive especially between ages 50-65. Nonetheless, his popularity is shrinking for the simple reason that himself has nothing new to propose on the major challenges Greece is facing. Similarly, New Democracy has restricted capacity to increase its percentage at a winning level. The communication strategy will be basically structured on the destruction of Tsipras’ profile rather than on any alternative policy agenda. In addition, the campaign team will invest on the devastating results of Syriza-ANEL government in the domestic field and the trust gap that Tsipras (and Varoufakis) have created between Greece and the creditors.
To Potami (The River)
To Potami fits everywhere, in the sense that they are willing to cooperate with both Syriza and New Democracy in a coalition government. Stavros Theodorakis, the party leader, is convinced that it is almost impossible for the first party to get absolute majority. This is why he is centering his strategy on the fact that his party is entirely new, without any reference to the old political system in Greece, composed by professionals of the private sector, academia and businessmen that are committed to work hard and assist in the next government. The problem with To Potami is that it has not made clear its political agenda, other than properly implementing the bailout deal and the measures agreed. The rhetoric of Theodorakis is balanced, without targeting Tsipras nor Meimarakis, hoping to build on a mild profile that can be useful for any government. Whether Syriza or New Democracy wins, it is likely that To Potami will be in the next government as coalition partner.
Silent for the moment. To the extent that someone could expect an outburst in the coming weeks. On the contrary, the leader of the party Nikos Michaloliakos builds on the fact that balances are very fragile at the current stage, and it would be fruitless to embark on a populist rhetoric and hatred speech against the refugees in Greece. The strategic decision of Golden Dawn is to follow Tsipras and Meimarakis crossing their swords, stay in the corner and observe what their contenders’ plan will be, and then start evolving their communication on the basis of the protection of national sovereignty, against austerity, against the threat that immigrants pose to national security, and certainly by promoting Golden’s Dawn resilience against the corrupted media and political establishment that put its MPs in jail for almost three years. The leading figures will play it safe, watching their performance getting stabilized, and then start intensifying of issues pertaining “national pride”, in the way they feel more comfortable with.
PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata has tried to broaden coalitions for the party, by addressing George Papandreou and inviting him to come back in his father political movement. Reaction was heavy by internal opposition, mainly stemming from former leader Venizelos, that could not withstand cohabitation with his major rival since 2007. Cooperation with Papandreou has failed, but instead PASOK will join forces with Democratic Left (DIMAR) that has almost disappeared since 2013. The parties will participate in the elections as an alliance under the title “Democratic Coalition” (or alignment) and try to safely pass the threshold of 3% to enter the Parliament. Overall, we should not expect something new from this cooperation, other than criticizing Syriza for U-turn in negotiations and personally Tsipras for abandoning his electoral promises (and program), presenting him as an untrustworthy leader. Most importantly, for PASOK the goal is to see New Democracy winning the elections so that they can form a coalition government, along with To Potami.
KKE (Communist Party)
Nothing new. Consistent in their ideas. Immovable. Their fundamental fear is to see Popular Unity catching a pretty good result, above or similar to theirs (i.e. more than 5%). Other than that, nothing to mention.
The big question of these elections is the newborn party formed by Syriza dissenters. Last Friday, Bridging Europe poll ranked them fourth with 6.1%, slightly behind To Potami (6,2%). During the last week, the party focused more on the drachma option and the first steps to address the financial shock that will follow the exit from Eurozone. It is really early to assess the final performance of the party, but it is certain that many will depend from the backing Zoi Konstantopoulou will give, as well as from the convincing or unconvincing communication of the party with regards to the national currency option. The major problem so far for Popular Unity is how undecided Syriza voters will behave. Will they choose Tsipras as a young and fresh guy or resist and endorse Lafazanis?
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