a note on the May 6, 2012 Greek elections appeared in Diplomaatia
Elections in Greece
by Spyros A.Sofos
Instead of the traditional left-right division, Greek political landscape is increasingly divided according to the parties’ attitudes towards austerity measures.
On May 6, just less than six months after the coalition government of technocrat Lucas Papademos succeeded that of beleaguered prime minister George Papandreou in order to initiate the reforms agreed at the Eurozone summit on October 26, 2011, Greek voters went to the polls to elect a new parliament and government against a rather gloomy backdrop.
The path to the polls
The sovereign debt crisis had exacerbated the contraction of the economy and the increase of unemployment (now affecting one in every three young people). The desperate attempts of the lastPanhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and the subsequent tripartite coalition government to raise revenues through hastily concocted tax, levy and contribution packages, which targeted groups whose incomes have traditionally been transparent and accessible to the revenue authorities, had renewed demands for a more equitable distribution of the tax burden. The failure to reign on a small but not negligible part of the population that has shielded its assets and income from tax collection through exploiting legal loopholes by failing to declare them or by moving them offshore was seen by many as a sign of chronic incompetence, corruption and unwillingness to reform.