Also knowing as a fact that the second four-year term of every government is always worse than the first, PASOK only stands to lose from forming a coalition with New Democracy.
There is one person who wants New Democracy to achieve an outright majority more that its leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis: It’s Nikos Androulakis, the head of the opposition socialists, PASOK. There is no other way to explain his recent statement on television, where he said that “I will not cooperate with New Democracy even if it is just two or three seats short of forming a government.”
Such an outright rejection of a coalition is not the product of some idiosyncratic Cretan vendetta (due to the wiretapping scandal, where it was revealed that he was one of the targets), as many claim. It arises more from political strategy and a fear. Androulakis and his staff, having spent years in Europe, know that the social democrats have lost whenever they cooperated as minority partners with Right-wing parties. Even in Greece, after the coalition government of ND’s Antonis Samaras with PASOK’s Evangelos Venizelos, despite the special circumstances of 2015, PASOK lost eight points (or at least five, if we include the percentage gained by the short-lived party of George Papandreou) compared to the 12.3% in June 2012. Its partner, ND, lost only two.
Also knowing as a fact that the second four-year term of every government is always worse than the first, PASOK only stands to lose from forming a coalition with New Democracy. The minority partner is blamed with the failures of the coalition and the majority one credited with its successes.
Seeing that PASOK is gaining ground, Androulakis does not want to sacrifice that momentum for a possible coalition government. This may also explain another incomprehensible – to voters – statement, saying that he would be willing to cooperate with the first party, as long as its leader is not named prime minister. This is not unreasonable in a parliamentary democracy. It happened in Greece in 2011 when the leader of the largest party, which won 44% of the vote and 160 seats, handed over the premiership to Lucas Papademos. But this decision by Androulakis was seen by voters as a dangerous tactic. It probably cost PASOK votes from the center-left which preferred a stable government, as, in the end, 13.6% of its voters switched to ND.
Therefore, the declaration that he will not cooperate with the first party is a big risk because, according to Androulakis, “the people honored Mitsotakis and raised his percentage [of the vote] despite the scandals, financial crimes, the 10 billion euros of direct [contract] assignments and the further impoverishment of the poor. We ask the voters of ND and SYRIZA who used to vote for PASOK to back our program.” This means that the voters of ND who used to vote for PASOK will not, at least in these elections, vote for PASOK. They will again choose stability.
Published in eKathimerini.com 2.6.2023