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Greece - Elections 2015

Election - 25 January 2015
SYRIZAAlexis Tsirpas14836.34%
New DemocracyAntonis Samaras76 27.81%
Golden DawnNikolaos Michaloliakos 17 6.28%
Potami RIVERGeorge Papandreou 17 6.05%,
ANEL Independent GreeksPanos kamenos13 4.75%
KKEAleka Papariga 155.47%,
PASOK Evangelos Venizelos 13 4.68%,
Democratic LeftFotis Kouvelis 0%
The center-right coalition failed on 17 December 2014 to get the two-thirds of the votes necessary to elect former EU official Stavros Dimas as the new president of Greece. Only 160 out of 200 deputies voted for the candidate. There will now be two more rounds of voting, with the first on December 23, and the second requiring only 180 to endorse a new candidate. If the nomination fails after three votes, a snap election will be called, in which the left-wing opposition is predicted to make gains.

As expected, Greek lawmakers failed 23 December 2014 to reach a majority in favor of the official candidate, Stavros Dimas, but an improved total from the first round left government lawmakers more optimistic ahead of the decisive final round on 29 December. Dimas won 168 votes in the 300-seat parliament, 12 short of the 180 needed. On December 29, 2014 Prime Minister Antonis Samaras called for early elections on January 25, after lawmakers failed to elect a new president in the third and final round of voting. The conservative government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras needed opposition support to get Dimas elected, and Samaras had offered to hold early elections by the end of 2015 in a bid to get independent MPs on board, but to no avail. The only candidate, former European Commissioner Stavros Dimas, got 168 votes with 180 votes needed, the same score as in the second round of the vote.

The prospect of snap elections was an unwelcome one, particularly to officials with European Union and International Monetary Fund. They feared a victory by radical leftist party Syriza, which wanted to renegotiate Greece's international bailout and roll back the austerity measures of recent years. Syriza, which despite its fiscal reform plans said it still wanted to keep Greece in the euro, led slightly in opinion polls.

Former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced the creation of a new political party - "Movement for Change", - on 2 January 2015, splitting from the center-left PASOK. The split could take PASOK below the 3 percent threshold needed to hold seats in parliament and there is no guarantee that "Movement for Change" could gain seats either. But its arrival could also draw support away from Syriza and New Democracy, neither of which may be able to govern alone.

Early vote counting on 25 January 2015 showed Syriza with about 35 percent of the vote, outdistancing the 29 percent recorded by the conservative New Democracy party led by incumbent Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. But it was unclear whether Syriza would win a decisive enough vote to control a minimum 151 of parliament's 300 seats to be able to govern on its own, or whether it will be faced with forming a coalition government.

Syriza won a clear mandate on an anti-austerity program that shocked both the Greek and European establishments which feared contagion in other European capitals. Syriza failed to a get a majority of seats and quickly formed a coalition government with the ANEL (‘Independent Greeks’) party, a traditionalist, conservative, yet anti-austerity party. Tsipras became the first PM of a Western European capital on the left of social democracy, since WWII.

Radical leftist Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as Greece's prime minister 26 January 2015, as European leaders balked at meeting his demands to cut the country's steep debt and renegotiate the austerity measures they have imposed on Athens. The 40-year-old Tsipras and his Syriza party won a sweeping national election victory on a promise to end austerity controls that led to sharp pension and wage cuts, higher taxes and massive unemployment. The former Communist is the country's youngest premier in 150 years. Syriza fell just short of winning a majority of 151 of the 300 seats in parliament, but quickly formed a coalition with the right-wing Independent Greeks party, which shares little in common with Syriza other than its opposition to the austerity measures.

The IMF bailout included proposals to raise the age of retirement to 67 years old and to increase VAT. Greece offered what it called a "balanced proposal," which would see cuts on early retirement, increases in contributions to pension funds, and a heightened corporate tax. Cuts to pension funds were one of the painful austerity measures that the administration of Prime Minister Tsipras had fought most fiercely during the four months of debt negotiations. The creditors’ demands include pension and VAT reforms, but most of the disagreements were over Greek refusals to limit defense spending cuts, and the privatization of regional airports.

Tsipras announced a referendum on the outcome of Greece's bailout talks with international creditors in a televised address 27 June 2015, saying the referendum will take place July 5. “These proposals, which clearly violate the European rules and the basic rights to work, equality and dignity show that the purpose of some of the partners and institutions was not a viable agreement for all parties, but possibly the humiliation of an entire people,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a televised address to the nation.

The surprise move led anxious Greeks to line up outside banks to withdraw cash from ATMs. The referendum would ask Greeks to vote on a proposal of reforms that the country's creditors made. The Greek government rejected it as imposing cuts that were too harsh on the general population.

To the surprise of everyone and not least, the Greek government, Greek voters overwhelmingly rejected the demand by the country's lenders to impose more austerity measures on them in exchange for new bailout loans for the government in Athens. In the Sunday 05 July 2015 referendum, more than 60 percent voted No (OXI). They rebuffed warnings from European leaders that ignoring their calls for more austerity could force the country from the 19-nation euro currency bloc. Speculation is that many in the inner circle of the leadership were hoping for a Yes vote in order to get off the hook.

On July 13 Tsipras, after being virtually locked in a room for 17 grueling hours, signed onto a third memorandum agreement. This agreement was signed under duress; tweeters around the world called it a coup.

Alexis Tsipras had no majority in his own party for his policies. Greece's prime minister increasingly relied on conservative or social democratic opposition lawmakers to supplement the votes from his fragile left-right coalition.

After a marathon session in the 300-seat parliament, on 14 August 2015 only 117 members of the prime minister's party voted for a new government credit bill, 32 voted against it and the others abstained. Toward the end of the month Tsipras seemed likely ask for a vote of confidence.

On 21 August 2015, Tsipras announced that his Syriza-led coalition government was resigning and requested that new elections be held on 20 September 2015. Tsipras called for snap elections as Syriza was leading by a comfortable margin and there was even a possibility of a majority government. Moreover, it did not seem that his government was under any threat of being toppled even though members of his own party and government ministers such as Yanis Varoufakis voted against the government on the third bailout agreement. Many of the dissident Syriza MPs (mostly from the Left Platform faction) have since formed a new party, Popular Unity (LAE is its Greek acronym), and were running against Syriza.

On September 20, 2015 Tsipras claimed victory in national elections, saying he will quickly form a coalition government to implement austerity measures demanded by European creditors in exchange for billions of dollars in bailout aid. The vote – the third national election in Greece this year – was triggered when Tsipras resigned last month, to face down an internal political rebellion by Syriza members angered at Tsipras' decision to reverse himself and accept European conditions in exchange for further bailout funding.

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Page last modified: 09-09-2018 18:47:11 ZULU