Is SYRIZA’s Win a Hollow Victory? (1/2)

Michael Nevradakis, scholar and host of Dialogos Radio in Athens, says the low voter turnout of 55% reflects widespread disenchantment with the Greek political system and SYRIZA

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SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.

Greeks went to the polls on Sunday, September 20. Alexis Tsipras and the Syriza party has won with 144 seats in parliament thus far, as two-thirds of the ballots have been counted. Greece’s conservative New Democracy party leader Vangelis Meimarakis has admitted defeat. Syriza will form a coalition with the ANEL party.

When Alexis Tsipras, the former prime minister of Greece, resigned on August 20 he triggered Greece’s fifth general election in six years. Tsipras was forced to hold a snap election after serving just seven months as prime minister after two major votes on the bailout agreement implied a de facto nonconfidence in the Tsipras-led Syriza government. The first vote followed the Oxhi referendum on July 5, in which 39 of the 149 Syriza MPs voted against the agreement. They were honoring the outcome of the referendum. Then on August 14, when the prime minister presented the prior actions required to seal the deal for the 86 billion euros, 44 Syriza MPs said no. Nevertheless, parliament still approved the deal and the measures with support from other parties.

Joining me now from Athens to discuss the election results that are unfolding is Michael Nevradakis. Michael is a host with Dialogos Radio in Greece, and a Ph.D. student in media studies at the University of Texas, Austin, and a Fulbright Scholar. He writes for many publications. Michael, thank you so much for joining us today.

MICHAEL NEVRADAKIS: Glad to be with you.

PERIES: So Michael, begin with giving us what some of the preliminary results are that are unfolding. You’re listening to what’s going on there.

NEVRADAKIS: Well, I think that the major story that is going to come out of these elections is the fact that there is a tremendous abstention rate in the Greek elections. More than has been seen in any previous election.

So right now, approximately 55 percent of eligible voters have actually voted in the election. That means 45 percent or so have not participated. And that is a much larger percentage than either the referendum on July 5 or the January parliamentary elections, where about 62-63 percent of the eligible voters participated. And even those figures were low compared to prior history in Greece. But it seems that the [amount] of voters in Greece has become essentially disenchanted with the political system and with the choices that they had to vote for these elections has grown even more.

So that’s really the major story. And I think the second major story is the fact that after everything that happened over the past few months with the July 5 referendum, with Syriza essentially breaking apart, with the government falling, with early elections being called, the percentages that Syriza will receive in this election, the percentage is very similar to what they received in January. They will have a very slight decline from what the results are showing so far. And it also looks like the main opposition party, New Democracy, is also going to remain unchanged compared to its finish in the January election. So essentially, the political landscape as far as the two big parties in Greece right now are concerned hasn’t changed at all.

Of course, we’re talking about these results from among a smaller pool of voters. And that in itself is very significant, because for instance blank ballots, and of course those that did not vote at all, that is not tallied into the final percentages. So we’re talking about Syriza right now at about 35 percent. And that’s 35 percent of those who have voted, with almost one in two voters not having participated.

PERIES: Do join us for part two with Michael Nevradakis. We’re going to continue the discussion of what’s unfolding in Greece today.

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