In the middle of the intense agenda of foreign and domestic affairs, there was the discussion of the possibility of snap elections in Greece. Therefore, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has declared that the elections will be held on time in 2023. Even though this declaration, political parties in Greece have escalated their election propaganda.
On the other hand, the “Predatorgate” incident, the hottest topic of internal affairs, has become the main agenda topic of the political parties. In the “Predatorgate” incident, where the investigation continues, it is claimed that the phones of Nicos Androulakis, the leader of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), and other members of the parliament from the Coalition of the Radical Left – Progressive Alliance (SYRIZA) were wiretapped by the leading party New Democracy (ND). It is observed that this incident could reshape the coalitions within the domestic politics of Greece.
The first three parties in the election surveys (ND, SYRIZA, and Coalition of PASOK-KINAL) are not ideologically close. ND is a conservative rightist, SYRIZA is a radical leftist, and PASOK is a social-democratic party. The opposition party PASOK has accepted SYRIZA as an opponent to ND. However, lately, the position of PASOK has changed. Therefore, Androulakis has identified himself as a strategic rival of PM Mitsotakis. The most basic reason is that Mitsotakis challenged Androulakis at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF). Such developments have changed the dynamics between ND and PASOK. The two parties’ approach toward each other turned hostile. That’s why SYRIZA and PASOK have developed a unity of discourse in the parliament. For instance, SYRIZA and PASOK lead to establishing an investigation commission for the Predatorgate incident.
In addition to the debate with PASOK, a strategic rival of ND is SYRIZA in today’s conjuncture. ND aims to be in power alone, and a powerful PASOK helps with this. ND leader Mitsotakis expressed the name of Androulakis frequently, showing that PASOK is trying to strengthen against SYRIZA. On the other hand, ND is trying to shake the left flank of the Center-Left by opening a communication channel on the anti-SYRIZA base.
According to current election polls, leading party ND is in first place with 35%. SYRIZA and PASOK-KINAL follow ND with 27% and 14%, respectively. However, the deepening of the “predatorgate” incident and the absence of a detailed explanation for this situation by the leading party caused a decrease in the support for ND. In addition, SYRIZA keeps this incident on the agenda, trying to decrease the power of ND.
Besides these internal dynamics, it is observed that the Mitsotakis Government is affected by the Ukrainian War. The energy crisis deepening by the upcoming winter causes oppression against the government.
Although the government indicated that the Greek people would not be mistreated by the energy crisis, Greece does not have alternative resources to Russia and some of the Gulf countries. Thus, the Athens administration has declared that they will receive gas from Gazprom.i However, the decision of the Interim Government of Bulgaria that negotiate with Gazprom on the energy issue caused the reaction of the Bulgarian people; a similar situation did not occur in Greece. Because when we look at the public opinion of Greek people, it is observed that there are no anti-Russian views or “Russophobia.” The most basic reason for this is that Greece was not a former Soviet Union country. Therefore, the core issue that Greek people care about is how the winter will be. In other words, in general, Greece does not have the “European” precision as other European Union (EU) countries have. Therefore, if Mitsotakis deals with Gazprom, there will not be a serious public reaction.
The real problem of Mitsotakis will be the reaction of the EU. Since the EU clearly expressed that it is on the side of Ukraine and expects member countries to carefully apply sanctions against Russia. Therefore, the opportunities of the opposition parties to compress the ND are limited by these two issues. In the election race, SYRIZA’s voting rate is gradually increasing. However, 27% is not enough to form a government alone. SYRIZA needs 151 chairs in the parliament to be the leading power. However, the leader of SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, does not have the power to guarantee the elections.
At that point, it is crucial to remember that the most important principle of the political parties in Greece is to form a government alone. Therefore, Tsipras does not consider a coalition with PASOK. Although the two parties have developed a similar discourse within the parliament, there is a divergence outside the parliament.
In addition, the rate of those who want ND power alone in the Greek public is 30%, and the rate of those who want an SYRIZA government alone is 17.7%. While 12.6% wanted an SYRIZA-PASOK coalition, the rate of those who are in favor of the ND-PASOK coalition is 8.5%. On the other hand, 7.9% of the group lean toward the ND-SYRIZA-PASOK coalition.ii
Also, European Realistic Disobedience Front (MeRA25), a pro-European leftist party founded in 2018, is mentioned in the possible coalition groups by the political analysts in Greece. However, as a response to these scenarios, the Secretary General of the party, Giannis Varoufakis, has criticized PASOK and SYRIZA, in addition to ND. In his speech at TIF, Varoufakis told SYRIZA and PASOK that “while giving confidence and assurance to the oligarchs, they are promising support to many.” and stated that he would not accept a government with co-chairmanship with SYRIZA.iii Thus the possibility of a coalition of SYRIZA-MeRA25 or PASOK-SYRIZA-MeRA25-KKE (Greek Communist Party) has diminished.
As a result, regardless of ideology, all political parties aim to form the government alone. In the current situation, although ND under Mitsotakis is in first place in the election polls, its voting rate is quite lower than in 2018. On the contrary, SYRIZA has an increase trend; yet it is not exactly that if it could receive the majority until 2023 Spring. PASOK-KINAL coalition is also busy with “Predatorgate” incident. However, according to the election polls, PASOK-KINAL is not able to form a government without a coalition with other parties. All of the developments open the discussion of possible coalitions in Greece. However, in the current situation, due to structural and ideological differences, definite comments could not be made. Undoubtedly, this situation will gain a more pronounced appearance towards 2023.
i “A New Gazprom plant is Shipping Its First Liquefied Natural Gas Cargo to Greece just 6 Months after the EU Vowed to Drastically Reduce Russian Gas Imports”, Markets Insider, https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/commodities/portovaya-new-gazprom-plant-ships-first-lng-gas-cargo-greece-2022-9, (Date of Accession: 16.09.2022).
ii Aydın Bostancı, “Anket: İşte ND ile SYRIZA Arasındaki Fark”, Azınlıkça,https://azinlikca1.net/yunanistan-bati-trakya-haber/item/60712-anket-iste-nd-ile-syriza-arasindaki-fark, (Date of Accession: 16.09.2022).
iii “Βαρουφάκης: ΣΥΡΙΖΑ και ΠΑΣΟΚ δίνουν διαπιστευτήρια στους ολιγάρχες – Όχι σε συγκυβέρνηση με Τσίπρα, Οικονομικός Ταχυδρόμος, https://www.ot.gr/2022/09/15/epikairothta/varoufakis-syriza-kai-pasok-dinoun-diapisteytiria-stous-oligarxes-oxi-se-sygkyvernisi-me-tsipra/, (Date of Accession: 16.09.2022).