May 2012 Greek legislative election
All 300 seats of the Hellenic Parliament
151 seats needed for a majority
Map of electoral districts, showing the largest party by share of votes. Darker shades indicate stronger vote share.
The May 2012 Greek legislative election was held in Greece on Sunday, 6 May, to elect all 300 members to the Hellenic Parliament. Under the constitution, it was due to be held in late 2013, four years after the previous election; however, an early election was agreed under the November 2011 agreement to form a coalition government, formed with a remit to ratify and implement decisions taken with other Eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) a month earlier.
The European sovereign debt crisis and the Greek financial crisis, in particular, have led to an escalated political crisis. There was an announcement by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou that a referendum would take place to determine whether Greece would accept the next bailout deal with the European Union, the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB). However such a referendum never took place. The parties of the opposition and politicians from within the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement have demanded an early election ever since.
At the same time, protests and strikes in Greece have been commonplace, with some turning violent. Social unrest in the country is the result of a series of austerity packages passed by the Greek parliament since 2010.
On 4 November 2011, there was a vote of confidence in Parliament, narrowly won by the government of George Papandreou by a vote of 153 to 145 in the 300-seat body. Although a number of Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) MPs said they would not support the government in the vote of confidence, all 152 eventually did support the government after PASOK's leader Papandreou agreed to step down as Prime Minister in order for a government of national unity to take over. Following the vote of confidence one previously expelled PASOK member was re-admitted to the party, raising the Papandreou majority to 153 seats. Despite the narrow victory, Papandreou eventually resigned a few days later, making way for a three-party "grand coalition" caretaker government under Lucas Papademos, a former ECB vice president, with the support of PASOK, ND and LAOS. However, LAOS later resigned over further austerity measures.
Voting is mandatory; however none of the legally existing penalties or sanctions have ever been enforced. 250 seats will be distributed on the basis of proportional representation, with a threshold of 3% required for entry into parliament. The other 50 seats will be awarded to the party or coalition that wins a plurality of votes, according to the election law. Parliamentary majority is achieved by a party or coalition of parties that command at least one half plus one (151 out of 300) of total seats. Blank and invalid votes, as well as votes cast for parties that fall short of the 3% threshold, are disregarded for seat allocation purposes.
In a speech to parliament on 4 November, Evangelos Venizelos said that the caretaker government would last until February. In late December 2011, it was decided that the election would be pushed back to late April, in order to allow the technocrat government to pass austerity measures.
Five parties were elected at the 2009 election, but during the course of the parliament changes in party memberships (mostly due to the February 2012 expulsions from the main two parties of representatives who would not vote for the loan agreement), resulted in representation for a further two official parties (parties with more than 10 MPs) and two parliamentary caucuses (i.e. smaller parties). An additional 18 members sat as independents. Leaders of official parties enjoy certain privileges that permit them equal footing to one another and to the prime minister, both in parliamentary procedure and in pre-election debating; such privileges are not extended to caucuses and independents.[original research?]
|Distribution of seats in parliament||2009 election||April 2012|
|Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK)||160||129|
|New Democracy (ND)||91||72|
|Communist Party of Greece (KKE)||21||21|
|Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS)||15||16|
|Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA)||13||11|
|Independent Greeks (ANEL)||0||11|
|Democratic Left (DIMAR)||0||10|
|Parliamentary caucuses and independents|
|Social Agreement (KOISY)||0||8|
|Democratic Alliance (DISY)||0||4|
A total of 31 parties participated in the election:
- Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), Evangelos Venizelos
- New Democracy (ND), Antonis Samaras
- Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Aleka Papariga
- Coalition of the Radical Left – Unitary Social Movement (SYRIZA), Alexis Tsipras
- Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), Georgios Karatzaferis
- Democratic Alliance (DISY), Dora Bakoyannis
- Social Agreement (KOISY), Louka Katseli
- Independent Greeks (ANEL), Panos Kammenos
- Democratic Left (DIMAR), Fotis Kouvelis
- Action – Liberal Alliance (DRASI-FS), Stefanos Manos and Grigoris Vallianatos
- Ecologists Greens (OP), six-member committee
- Union of Centrists (EK), Vassilis Leventis
- Liberal party (LIBERTAS), Manolis Kaligiannis
- Golden Dawn (XA), Nikolaos Michaloliakos
- No: The coalition of Democratic Revival and United Popular Front (EPAM), Stelios Papathemelis and 3-member committee
- I Don't Pay Movement, Vasilis Papadopoulos
- Communist Party of Greece (Marxist-Leninist) / Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Greece (KKE(M–L) / ML KKE), four-member committee
- Front of the Greek Anticapitalist Left (ANTARSYA), 21-member committee
- Organisation of Communist Internationalists of Greece (OKDE), 3-member committee
- Workers Revolutionary Party (EEK), Savas Matsas
- Organisation for the Reconstruction of the Communist Party of Greece (OAKKE), 3-member committee
- National Unity Association (SEE), Nikos Alikakos
- Society – Political Party of the Successors of Kapodistrias, Michail Iliadis
- Pirate Party of Greece (KPE), Ioannis Panagopoulos
- Recreate Greece (DX), Thanos Tzimeros
- Panathinaikos Movement (PANKI), Yiorgos Betsikas
- Dignity, alliance of independent candidates, Panayiotis Theodoropoulos
- Greek Ecologists, Dimosthenis Vergis (sole candidate)
- National Resistance Movement (KEAN), Ippokratis Savvouras (sole candidate)
- Renewing Independent Left, Renewing Right, Renewing Pasok, Renewing New Democracy, No to War, Party of Action, I Give Away Land, I Pardon Debts, I Save Lives, Panagrarian Labour Movement of Greece (PAEKE), Miltiadis Tzalazidis (sole perennial candidate)
- Regional Urban Development (PAA), Nikos Kolitsis (sole candidate)
Four other parties were banned by the Supreme Court of Greece: National Hope, PAME in GESEEP, the Friends of Man and Citizens Assembly–(Direct) Democracy in Practice. National Hope was prohibited under the electoral law from participating as it is a monarchist party. The court also banned the one-man party Tyrannicides from contesting the election under that name, on the grounds that the title "demonstrated criminal intent." The party's Athanasios Daskalopoulos was however allowed to run in the election as independent candidate, on equal terms with the 51 other approved independent candidates.
In order to provide voters with a quick unbiased tool, to check into what degree the voters personal answer in a political survey compared with the answers by the political parties, a joint academic non profit group of researchers from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and four other International universities, developed this free to use internet application Choose4Greece.
Among the 12 biggest political parties in the opinion polls, the parties that would continue the austerity programme were PASOK, New Democracy, DISY (Democratic Alliance) and DRASI (Liberal Alliance).
There was also criticism of the German-led austerity programmes. Golden Dawn's campaign also called for the placement of land mines on the border with Turkey, the revocation of eurozone loan agreements, nationalisation of banks that received state loans and the nationalisation of natural resources. It was also said to have gained support by organising patrols in high-crime neighbourhoods (a similar tactic to Jobbik, who gained entry into the Hungarian parliament for the first time). In turn PASOK and New Democracy also ratcheted up rhetoric against illegal immigration, while New Democracy feared further loss of votes to opponents of the austerity measures. LAOS, in turn, called for immigrants to be sent to uninhabited islands.
KKE leader Aleka Papariga said that Greece should leave both the eurozone and the EU. ND's Antonis Samaras doubted the ability to create a "grand coalition" with PASOK. The Ecogreens' Yiannis Paraskevopoulos said the prime issue for them was the economy and the direction of the country. Independent Greeks' Panos Kammenos said that Germany was too dominant and criticised the austerity measures he said were dictated to Greece. SYRIZA's Alexis Tsipras said that he was open to working with Independent Greeks or anyone who supported a left-wing government. LAOS's Georgios Karatzaferis, who left the interim government midway through its "mandate," criticised ND and PASOK for their "betrayal," saying that "they depend their political survival on foreign power centres by accepting English law for [Greece's] bonds. This land is governed by Reichenbach," while he justified his initial decision to join the interim government by saying: "I am not the first choice of the Americans and the troika. It's only natural for me to be put under pressure." He also criticised a new initiative against illegal immigration as lax, in what was read as a move to gain back credibility from Golden Dawn.
At a campaign rally in the Athenian suburb of Maroussi on 21 April, PASOK's Evangelos Venizelos said that "parliament cannot become a reception space for the followers of Nazism and fascism." In response, some Golden Dawn supporters were reported to have thrown bottles and other objects at him.
Ahead of the election, the financial markets started to price in the risk that the election could result in a new government led by parties seeking to reverse the austerity measures. Due to the risk factor, the yield for the new 10-year Greek government bond rose from 18.1% on 15 March to 22.3% on 10 April, at a time when opinion polls predicted the election would result in a new anti-austerity government. On 27 April, the yields slightly recovered to 20.6%, when opinion polls started to show that the election could result in an austerity friendly government. Less than a week before the election Standard & Poor's increased the Greek sovereign debt rating by a notch above default.
The Bank of Greece made an unusual political statement on 24 April when it claimed that the economic recovery depends upon a "strict adherence to the economic reforms and fiscal adjustment commitments Greece has agreed with its eurozone partners." It claimed that choosing a different path would only lead to a worsening of the recession. The central bank called on citizens and the political system to undertake "the historic responsibility of choice" and asked for "the greatest possible consensus" in society and in the political sphere when deciding if Greece should stay in the eurozone by applying the agreement with Greece’s creditors or to drop out. It warned that Greece’s eurozone membership was at stake if Greece failed to follow through on its pledges after the election.
Surveys carried out since 2009 showed a sharp decline in support for the two major parties, PASOK and New Democracy, with PASOK, the sole ruling party until 2011, seeing the largest losses in support. Polling numbers for LAOS, having risen until late 2011, declined in the run up to the next election, while support for previously minor left-wing parties as well as the new, right-wing ANEL party seemed to surge. The poll by VPRC in January 2012 featured PASOK in fifth place, the first time in over thirty years that the party was not amongst the top two; however by April 2012 it had returned to second place in the polls. Golden Dawn, a extreme right party, was set to enter parliament for the first time, capturing traditional LAOS voters after their support fell when they joined the interim governing coalition.
According to Greek law, opinion polls may not be published in the last two weeks preceding an election.
|New Democracy (ND)||1,192,103||18.85||14.62||108||17|
|Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA)||1,061,928||16.79||12.19||52||39|
|Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK)||833,452||13.18||30.74||41||119|
|Independent Greeks (ANEL)||671,324||10.62||New||33||33|
|Communist Party of Greece (KKE)||536,105||8.48||0.94||26||5|
|Popular Association-Golden Dawn (ΧΑ)||440,966||6.97||6.68||21||21|
|Democratic Left (DIMAR)||386,384||6.11||New||19||19|
|Ecologist Greens (OP)||185,485||2.93||0.40||0||±0|
|Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS)||182,925||2.89||2.74||0||15|
|Democratic Alliance (DISY)||161,550||2.55||New||0||±0|
|Recreate Greece (DIXA)||135,960||2.15||New||0||±0|
|Action-Liberal Alliance (DRASI-FS)||114,066||1.80||New||0||±0|
|Front of the Greek Anticapitalist Left (ANTARSYA)||75,416||1.19||0.83||0||±0|
|Social Agreement (KOISY)||60,552||0.96||New||0||±0|
|No (Democratic Revival-United Popular Front (OCHI (DA-EPAM))||58,170||0.92||0.47||0||±0|
|I Don't Pay Movement (KP)||55,590||0.88||New||0||±0|
|Union of Centrists (EK)||38,313||0.61||0.34||0||±0|
|National Unity Association (SEE)||38,286||0.61||New||0||±0|
|Pirate Party of Greece (KPE)||32,519||0.51||0.28||0||±0|
|Society-Political Party of the Successors of Kapodistrias (Koinonia)||28,514||0.45||0.29||0||±0|
|Marxist–Leninist Communist Parties of Greece (KKE (m-l)/M-L KKE)||16,010||0.25||0.02||0||±0|
|Workers' Revolutionary Party (EEK)||6,074||0.10||0.03||0||±0|
|Liberal Party (KF)||3,618||0.06||New||0||±0|
|Organisation for the Reconstruction of the KKE (OAKKE)||2,565||0.04||0.02||0||±0|
|Organisation of Internationalist Communists of Greece (OKDE)||1,783||0.03||New||0||±0|
|National Resistance Movement (KEAN)||335||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Panagrarian Labour Movement of Greece (PAEKE)||302||0.00||0.02||0||±0|
|Panathinaikos Movement (PANKI)||18||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Greek Ecologists (EI)||3||0.00||0.29||0||±0|
|Regional Urban Development (PAA)||3||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Votes cast / turnout||6,476,818||65.12||5.83|
|Source: Ministry of Interior|
ND's Antonis Samaras said "I understand the rage of the people, but our party will not leave Greece ungoverned." Golden Dawn's Nikolaos Michaloliakos told his party supporters that "Europe of the nations returns, Greece is only the beginning" amid applaud and chants of "Greece belongs to Greeks." He also told the media: "The resistance of Golden Dawn against the bailout dictators will continue. Inside and outside the Greek parliament. We will continue the battle for Greece. Free from the international speculators. For a proud and independent Greece. For Greece without the bailout slavery and the loss of our national sovereignty."
The absence of a parliamentary majority was highlighted as a reason of concern. Financial analysts expressed their opinion that the poor result of the parties that had supported the austerity measures and neo-liberal economic policies would be detrimental for financial markets. The financial markets reacted negatively, with some opinions being expressed that Greece could withdraw from the eurozone before the end of 2013. The Athex fell by a record 10% during the first hours of the trading day after the election. At the close of the first trading day after the election, Athex had slightly recovered to a decline of 6.7%, while the yield for 10-year government bond rose from 20.6% to 23.0%. Following the failure of ND to form a government, European financial markets fell, as well as U.S. futures markets. U.S. stock indices also fell as a result. As a result of the failure to form a government five days later, following both ND and SYRIZA's attempts, U.S. financial markets continued to slide. After two failed attempts to form governments, Trevor Williams, the chief economist at Lloyds TSB said that the markets were beginning to factor in a Greek withdrawal from the eurozone. This observation was at the same time also confirmed by a Bloomberg poll, as it showed 57% of investors now expected Greece would leave the euro in 2012. Four days after the election, the Athex general index had declined 10.8%, while yields for the 10-year government bond had increased from 20.6% to 24.7%. Over the course of the next eight days following successive failed attempts at government formation, stock markets in Europe and elsewhere fell, while sovereign bond yields in Italy and Spain also rose amid fears of a renewed crisis within the eurozone.
- European Union - The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz said that "the negotiations to form a government in Athens should have as a target the honouring of the country's obligations towards the European Union." Though he also said that the events in both Greece and other eurozone states indicate a need for a policy package in order to enhance growth and job creations.
- A European Commission spokesman said that it had "hopes and expects that the future government of Greece will respect the engagements that Greece has entered into."
- Germany - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Greece alone should determine a possible coalition government and that Germany would work with any democratically elected government, while insisting on the continuation of the bailout measures. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle added that Greece should continue to honour its obligations by cutting public deficits and that "we expect the formation of prudence government in Greece, with a clear European orientation." He added that Berlin will discuss this possibility with Athens. After the failure of the first attempt to form a government he said that "we call on the authorities in Greece to quickly move toward stability so that a government of reason can be formed. [The developments are viewed] with great concern. It’s important for us that the steps that have been agreed upon with the government be implemented. They are not up for negotiation.
- Sweden - Finance Minister Anders Borg said that "it is of course of central importance to underline that they must uphold the direction of fiscal policy. They must continue to uphold the measures they have pledged in the programmes."
Results by region
|Region||New Democracy (ND)
|Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA)
|Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK)
|Independent Greeks (ANEL)
|Communist Party of Greece (KKE)
|Golden Dawn (XA)
|Democratic Left (DIMAR)|
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New Democracy won most districts of the Greek countryside, winning in its traditional strongholds of Greek Macedonia and Peloponnese. However, 19% of the vote for New Democracy is an all-time low for the party, down from its previous all-time low of 33% which occurred in the previous election in 2009. SYRIZA won the highest number of votes in most urban areas, including Athens and Thessaloniki. This is the first time since the election of 1977 that a party besides New Democracy or PASOK finished as one of the top two parties. PASOK, who have spent 21 years in government on-and-off since 1981, suffered their worst defeat since 1974, reduced to just 13% of the vote. PASOK finished in first place in four prefectures: Heraklion, Lasithi, Rethymno, and Rhodope. It has been suggested that Syriza's sudden success depended on PASOK joining the right-wing pro-austerity coalition and Syriza convincing voters that it was "the only 'true' leftist party" which unlike their rivals would actively renegotiate the austerity terms.
Even though the Communist Party increased its share of the vote by almost 1% and increased its presence in the parliament by 5 seats, it finished outside of the top three for the first time since 1993. The Communist Party finished in first place in the Samos Prefecture. Extremist neo-Nazi Golden Dawn entered parliament for the first time, while right-wing LAOS lost all parliament seats after it joined the governing coalition.
As the election resulted in no single party with a majority of parliament seats, the Greek law stipulates a procedure, where the largest party first will be given a chance to negotiate a government formation within three days. Failing that, the second largest party will be given the chance within the next three days, and if this attempt also fails the third ranked party will get a further three days to try and form a government. If none of the three largest parties can succeed to form a government, the baton will be handed over to the president for a last neutral attempt. If the process fails, then another election will be called.
The day after the election, President Karolos Papoulias met with the leader of New Democracy Antonis Samaras to task him with the first attempt to form a government. On 8 May, Tsipras was tasked with forming a government within the stipulated three days by Papoulias at noon. At the same time the EU decided to continue with Greece's disbursements which meant sending US$5.4 billion on 10 May, but an additional US$1.29 billion was held back. As a result of the political imbroglio, both PASOK and ND suggested the EU and IMF agreement could have to be re-evaluated. If PASOK leader Venizelos failed Papoulias would make a final attempt to form a unity government. Venizelos met with Papoulias on 12 May to return his mandate.
On 12 May, an opinion poll showed that 72% of respondents felt that the parties must make mutual concessions and work together, 22.9% of them called for a new election. At the same time, 78.1% requested that the new government should do everything necessary in order to keep Greece within the eurozone.
The talks failed on 15 May, with an early election expected in June. A caretaker cabinet under Council of State president Panagiotis Pikrammenos was appointed on 16 May, and the election date announced to be scheduled for 17 June. The formal decrete to dissolve the newly elected parliament and call for new elections at 17 June, was jointly signed by the President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and caretaker Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos at 19 May, to fully comply with the constitutional rule of calling for new elections within 30 days after having dissolved the parliament.
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- "Greek government talks in final stretch". Ekathimerini. 11 May 2012. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- "Greece's Socialists Fail To Reach Deal On Coalition Government - WSJ.com". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
- Ενισχυμένος ο ΣΥΡΙΖΑ σε νέα δημοσκόπηση Αθηναϊκό Πρακτορείο Ειδήσεων - Μακεδονικό Πρακτορείο Ειδήσεων (in Greek). Ana.gr. 12 May 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
- Alderman, Liz; Donadio, Rachel (15 May 2012). "Greek President Expected to Name Caretaker Government". The New York Times.
- Galpin, Richard (16 May 2012). "Greece to hold new election on 17 June". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
- Διαλύθηκε και τυπικά η Βουλή - Προκήρυξη εκλογών (in Greek). DefenceNet. 19 May 2012. Archived from the original on 23 May 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- igraphics.gr, election results visualized. Distribution maps of every party for further analysis.
- Choose4Greece, an application that allows users to see which party is in accordance with certain views. (In Greek)
- NSD: European Election Database - Greece publishes regional level election data; allows for comparisons of election results, 1990–2012