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No one could predict Greece’s political life developments

12 November 2010 / 17:11:39  GRReporter
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Voters rejected the current political system as ineffective and loosing, only changing it would return people's interest in politics, said the manager Constantinos Panagopoulos of one of the largest Greek poll agencies Alco. He expects still less Greeks to exercise their right to vote on Sunday, the outcome of the battle for Athens, Piraeus and the Peloponnese is still unclear. Interview by Anastasia Balezdrova.

Mr. Panagopoulos, almost a week now political parties can not understand on the political message that voters sent them last Sunday. What is it in your opinion?

I would like to say that the last Sunday vote sent three main messages. First, it confirmed the voters’ neglect to today's party system through its very low activity and the impressively high percentage of white and invalid ballots. Secondly, voters expressed their dissatisfaction with government policy, especially the economic one. This was expressed very clearly by the low percentage the ruling party’s candidates gained in the 13 areas. Third, the dynamics of the votes speaks of different politics. It was clear from the high percentages the left parties gained, especially the communist party. If I could assess the outcome of the first round of the local elections in general I'd say it was a wise result. Voters have expressed their dissatisfaction with government policy very clearly, much more clearly than this has happened during other local elections, without causing any major changes that could disrupt stability.  

Who won and who lost the first election round?

As we are talking about local elections I will respond relatively and considering only the outcome of the electoral battles in the 13 areas. I would say with no doubt that the Communist Party of Greece should be pleased with the outcome. It gained high percentage rate not only at candidate level but also as total number of votes.

The big loser of the first electoral round is the entire party system in Greece, as we know it in recent years. And that is because many voters expressed they consider it ineffective and corrupt and therefore decided not to give it a chance to continue in the same way and chose either not to vote, or to put white or spoiled ballot in the urn. Only ballots of 55% of the voters were valid.  

PASOK lost 1.1 million votes compared to last year's parliamentary elections. Some of its members decided to run as independent candidates and the electoral outcome shows people dissatisfaction. But the party should be satisfied with the fact that the political scene was not changed. New Democracy also lost 550,000 votes compared to the general election, but it should be content because some of its key positions were well accepted by voters. Also, its difference with PASOK, though it is relative in local elections, is much reduced. Coalition of the Radical Left should be pleased by the fact that it kept its rate given the conditions under which local elections are held. I think all parties have reason to think and be satisfied with election results. I could only note that the local administration to a large extent became a victim of the negative image of the party system in our country. Much of the voters have taken it alike and decided either not vote or to vote with invalid ballot. I believe we will face this trend increasingly in subsequent years unless some change occurs. Let me say also that parties’ concerns should be focused on this, not on the search of winners and losers in the election race.

What could the good election result of the candidates of the Communist Party mean?

Let me first say that the candidates of the Communist Party traditionally focus a high percentage of the local election votes. The vote in the 13 districts is political, of course. Obviously, many more voters supported the different position of the Communist Party this time. It would be wrong, however, to consider any such votes guaranteed in any other election race.

What will be the voting criteria of the people in the second electoral round? Will their vote be political again?

I have no easy answer to this question. I would say that there are two approaches that are clearly expressed by both major parties. New Democracy stands firmly behind its message to vote against the Memorandum of economic support, while PASOK has seen the election in their nature. This is the right strategic approach for both parties. They choose the stadium which will be more comfortable to play.

I think that even fewer voters than in the first electoral round will go to the polls on Sunday. I also think that people's choices will be based on mixed criteria. But I can not decide which one will prevail. We will know on the election night.

Tensions between the two candidates for the Athens mayor's chair rose sharply in recent days. How do you think the electoral battle will run there?  

You know that the law prohibits us, sociologists, to say anything. The first round results showed that despite the lead of the candidate of the opposition party Nikitas Kaklamanis, the nature of the problems of Athens does not allow anyone to be calm concerning the final result.

Tags: Constantinos PanagopoulosAlcoLocal electionsPollsPolitics
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