Extremely low rates for PASOK and New Democracy, four times higher rates for the radical left SYRIZA, 19% of the voters are not represented in the new parliament, 21 deputies for Golden Dawn. The results of the parliamentary elections held on Sunday were shocking for voters, parties and observers. Immediately after them, discussions about forming a new cabinet began. Two days later, the possibility of holding new elections seems more than real.
GRReporter sought the opinion of Thomas Gerakis, head of the marketing research and communication company MARC. We had talked to him two weeks before the elections, on the last day when it was allowed to announce polls results. He said then that everything suggested a coalition government, but today, it almost seems a mission impossible.
How would you comment on the results of the parliamentary elections held on Sunday?
A political earthquake has been caused in the country. It has led to structural changes in the political system. Everything is completely different now. The circle of the period after the fall of the junta, which was dominated by major parties and one-party governments, is being closed. Now, a new circle is opening in which there are no major parties yet but it seems it would be a circle of coalition governments.
I think that parties need political time to realize what has happened. Whether we want it or not, with or without elections, we must learn to form coalitions. Of course, I feel that what we see today is the country's transition to a new era, so it needs time to become aware. Eventually it will take several electoral races until we reach what we call "new political stability" for the country.
Do you think there will be new elections?
We cannot reject this scenario. The statements of political leaders make it clear that it is quite a possible option. The main question now is whether a government could be formed and how. If it does not happen, there will be new elections.
However, there are some secondary issues such as whether the government, whatever it is, will stand for a long time, which I think would be very difficult. Another question is whether the next elections will be able to solve the political problem of the country. For Greece, at the time of its worst economic crisis, has been burdened with another problem: a political crisis. If we must call things by their true names, we are going just through that: We are unable to form a cabinet, there are no big parties, and the electoral law has strangely affected the elections.
I.e. the party, which ranked first based on the number of votes, in practice is the sum of all parties that remained outside parliament and is equal to 19%. It is higher than the 18% of New Democracy. And a party winning 18% of the votes has not appeared on the political stage since 1950. As the second party can be determined the "bonus" of 50 seats in favour of the party ranked first in terms of votes. These are things confusing the analysis of election results.
Do you agree with the view that the vote of Greek voters was driven by their anger and that this was their way of protesting?
Yes, these were elections, which expressed the anger of the people. There are many examples. For example, the percentage of Golden Dawn is not due to the fact that so many Greek citizens have suddenly become right-wing. It was an expression of protest against political parties.
Let me tell you a few details to know the difference. 60% of the voters voted for a party other than that for which they had voted in the elections in 2009. To the question asked for the exit poll, "How close do you feel to the party for which you voted?" only 50% of the people responded positively. If we add the fact that 40% of the people chose for whom to vote in the last 15 days it becomes clear that there is a change in the way in which we vote in Greece. We must forget the times when we voted according to our political identity, according to the political history of our family. There is a transition to elections with a freer choice.
In the case that new elections are held, which is very likely to happen, do you expect the same results to repeat?
This is a crucial issue with two basic approaches to it. The first is that these elections were a punishment, but the next elections will put things in their regular and logical order. Therefore, there will be different results in favour of the two former major parties. I.e. the anger that was expressed in these elections will be less.
There is also a second opinion according to which these elections were not only a way to punish the parties and the result of general structural changes but we are witnessing a great change. I.e. there is no chance to return to the previous political situation. My personal opinion is closer to the second opinion. Both of them are true but I think everything is different in Greece now and there is no chance of returning to the old political climate.
Are voters really aware of what is happening and what is at stake?
Yes, you are right. I think too that because of the extremely short campaign period, we did not have the opportunity to hear the proposals and programmes of the parties, to explain what is at risk. We were more occupied in to determining who is to blame for ending up here than to think about tomorrow