By Isabel Ringrose
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Conservatives win Greek election as Syriza wanes

Syriza's austerity politics opened the door to the conservatives
Issue 2856
Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Leading the race, conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis (Picture: Anne Sjöholm/valtioneuvoston kanslia)

The conservative prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has won the Greek national election with almost 40.8 percent of the vote, in what he is calling a “political earthquake”. Meanwhile Alexis Tsipras’ once radical Syriza party was left trailing behind with 20.1 percent. 

This outcome underlines the weakness of trying to achieve fundamental change within the existing system and through the methods of parliament. Petros Constantinou is from SEK, the Greek sister organisation of the Socialist Workers Party. “In reality this is not a shift to New Democracy,” he told Socialist Worker. “In terms of the votes, it got 1 percent more than last time.  Its crisis won’t end with this election—it won’t create a stable government because its lies will be proven quickly.”

Petros said the big difference “is the collapse of Syriza”. “It lost almost 12 percent—around 600,000 votes.” He explained, “Syriza moved to the right very openly—it wanted to win the centre,” Petros added. “So it reformed itself to attack any voices on the left within, practically silencing them.”  

Mitsotakis’ New Democracy (ND) party won 146 seats—but 151 are required for a majority. He’s now calling for a second election on 25 June to secure an overall majority, rather than seek to make a coalition.

At such a vote the leading party will win an extra 50 bonus seats in the Greek parliament. So all ex-banker Mitsotakis has to do is win the same vote share again to take full parliamentary power.

Since coming to power in 2019 ND has offered nothing for ordinary people. This came to a head in February this year after a train crash caused by privatisation killed 57 people.

ND’s cuts made the railway more dangerous as the government cut staff and ignored safety warnings. In response an angry mass movement formed, rejecting ND’s policies of tax cuts, prioritising big business and ramping up privatisation.

Tsipras called Syrizia’s result “extremely negative”. Buoyed by general strikes, occupations and student struggles, Tspiras won the 2015 election on radical left promises. But once in office, Syriza capitulated to the bankers’ demands. It accepted bailouts on their terms and made ordinary people pay through five years of devastating austerity.

Petros added, “Just one month before the election began there was an explosion against ND because of the train crash. Almost 30 percent of the Greek population was involved in strikes.  This led to a general strike on 8 March. But Syriza didn’t escalate the struggle, it tried to stop it.

“It opposed demands to renationalise the railway. All these people are still angry, but there is no visible alternative to them. A lot of people just didn’t vote at all.”

Syriza’s capitulation to the bosses opened the door to the conservatives.

Hit back against the right

Socialists in Greece say a fight is needed against the new government. The Labour-type Pasok party took 11.46 percent of the vote, up from 8.10 percent last time. Its leader Nikos Androulakis is unlikely to go into a coalition because he’ll want to take over from Syriza as the leading left party.

And the future of Alexis Tsipras’ time in Syriza will certainly be up for question. SEK said, “Immediately in June we can organise strikes in hospitals, municipalities, water and trains. Let’s go into a second election period with the labour movement in the streets, showing how we stop the murderous privatisations.”

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