Greece: Crucial elections in Greece
May 23, 2012
The inconclusive result of the 6 May elections prompted President Karolos Papoulias to dissolve the two-day old parliament and call fresh elections for 17 June. The latest polls predict a tight race between leftist Syriza led by Alexis Tsipras and the centre-right New Democracy party led by Antonis Samaras, with a slight advantage for the latter. A poll conducted on 23-24 May by Kapa Research showed that the New Democracy party would win the elections with 25.8% of votes, against 20.5% for Syriza. In addition, the survey pointed out that 65.2% of respondents would choose to remain in the Euro area, even if it implies implementing the austerity measures. Meanwhile, another survey conducted on 25-29 May by research firm GPO, showed a smaller distance between the two parties, with New Democracy garnering 23.4% of votes compared to 22.1% for Syriza. According to the GPO poll, 77.8% of respondents would revise the terms of the bailout program. With less than two weeks to go, the polls suggest that the pro-bailout parties, New Democracy and socialist PASOK, will again fail to secure a majority in Parliament. Accordingly, Greece is unlikely to implement the austerity measures agreed with the ECB-IMF-European Commission troika. While several European politicians have indicated their willingness to renegotiate the terms of the bailout, other European leaders apparently have lost their patience and seem willing to accept the consequences of cutting the lifeline to Greece: a Greek default on its debt and a subsequent exit of the country from the Eurozone. A face-saving alternative for the European hardliners could come in the form of Keynesian-style growth initiatives that would soften the impact of the fiscal austerity measures.