The most important election in modern Greek history has predictably left the politicians of Greece the unenviable task of forming a coalition. At the time of writing New Democracy has the most seats, 108 of the Greek Parliament’s 300 seats. Syriza, New Democracy’s most prominent opposition, gained 19 seats and now holds 71 seats in total. The five remaining parties have all lost seats. Despite the increase in seats enjoyed by New Democracy and Syriza neither has enough seats to form a government, though New Democracy is in a better position. Leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, has called to congragulate the leader of New Democracy, Antonis Samaras.
Pasok (the Panhellenic Socialist Movement) came third, and looks likely to be the most feasible partner in a New Democracy-led government. With New Democracy’s 108 seats and Pasok’s 34 seats a government could be formed. However, while the mathematics of the election results is comparatively simple, the politics is not.
The BBC reported that a senior Pasok MP said that the party would be willing to form a new government with New Democracy, but only if Syriza is represented. It is too early to establish how widespread this attitude is amongst Pasok politicians and supporters. Even if widespread, such attitudes would probably be repressed in order to form a government as soon as possible.
A New Democracy-led government would be a relief to the Eurocrats in Brussels who would prefer a government to be formed soon. A drawn out negotiation process will not reassure the markets or advocates of the European project.
Greece wasn’t the only country on the Mediterranean to hold elections today. Both France and Egypt also held elections.
Egyptians voted in low numbers in the second and last round of voting for their country’s first president since Mubarak left office. The two candidates are Mohamed Morsi from the Freedom and Justice Party and Mubarak’s former Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafiq. When one considers that the choice being given to the Egyptians is between someone from the regime the Arab Spring deposed and someone with strong links to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood it is not hard to see why the turnout has been low.
In France Hollande’s socialists have won a majority in parliament and will not need the support of the communists or the greens to pass legislation. The socialists were not the only ones with good news, the xenophobic National Front won its first seats since the 1980s.
It will be a few days and perhaps even weeks before the full implications of these elections are clarified. Greece looks to be on track to establish a government sooner than many thought, though how the German government will work with the socialist French government and a pro-bailout and pro-euro Greek government in order to save the euro is not clear. Egypt’s election looks only to be the latest disappointment the Arab Spring has delivered.