There’s not much to say about the disadvantages of simple proportional representation that we don’t already know all too well.
Someone once said that “if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” That’s where SYRIZA finds itself right now, mired between governments of winners, losers, “special purpose” and anything else that may crop up by July. The fact is that leftist leader Alexis Tsipras prefers the first option – and says so at every opportunity – but also appears ready to settle for the others too. He did, after all, say as much at the press conference he gave earlier this week, where he stated that “I’m not flatly rejecting the possibility that such a discussion may not take place the day after the election, but a special purpose government is not what I am aiming for. What I am aiming for is a four-year, stable, enduring government that will include all these special purposes.”
He did not say that he would form a government of “desperados,” as the government spokesman claimed, but he did not rule out the possibility of considering the option. According to the SYRIZA chief, someone could float the idea (PASOK’s Nikos Androulakis, perhaps?) and Tsipras would consider it, even though he also claimed that “if SYRIZA wins, I think it possible to achieve a combination that would allow us to form an enduring, four-year, stable government. Not a special purpose government.” It was this comment that prompted a flurry of interpretations, misinterpretations, propaganda and everything else that defines a “good campaign.”
The lapsus linguae is not Tsipras’ problem, just as the interpretations given by journalists and analysts are not SYRIZA’s problem; they’ve heard so much being said about them, they know how to ignore a slip of the tongue. The problem is that a major change in the country’s electoral system that was introduced seven years ago has not been accompanied by the necessary discussion. The most simplified system of proportional representation we have ever known was passed by the SYRIZA government on July 22, 2016. It’s been silence ever since, with a bit of noise coming from New Democracy regarding ways to overturn it. Those who introduced the system and claim it is the best we’ve got have not gone on to talk about its benefits. After all, there’s not much to say about the disadvantages of simple proportional representation that we don’t already know all too well. Instead, SYRIZA focused on other matters, and particularly on the Novartis affair.
Furthermore, it did not build any bridges with the parties it now says belong to the “progressive” camp and with which SYRIZA is now hinting at partnerships with; instead, it maligned them – with the help of certain far-right officials in its government.
Convergence with these parties appears to have been nowhere in SYRIZA’s sights, as though it was fully confident of getting 46% of Sunday’s vote, which is the ratio it would need to form a single-party government under the system of simple proportional representation. Therefore, to wrap up with another quote, as Shakespeare would say, “The fault, dear Alexis, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
Published in eKathimerini.com 19.5.2023