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Yiannis Mavris | Political scientist, PhD, President & CEO of Public Issue

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Rise and Fall. Voter support for SYRIZA before and after the Referendum of 5 July 2015

Published in the journal Tetradia, issue 66-67, Autumn-Winter 2016-2017
1. January 2015: Historic political reversal
2. The significance of the referendum of 5/7/2015 for SYRIZA’s voter support
3. Social polarization deepens: electoral and social geography of the referendum
4. “Democratic moment”
5. Reversal of the reversal. SYRIZA after the referendum
6. The September election: continuity and discontinuity in SYRIZA’s electoral base
7. After the September 2015 election
8. From “party-politicization” to “de-politicization”. SYRIZA and the party system in the post-democratic age. Is there a future?

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Support for the Greek government remains high

The Political Barometer for June captures trends in Greek public opinion, as these have been shaped just a few days prior to the emergency EU summit called to discuss the issue of Greece. (The survey was conducted 11-17/6/15).

In this context, two findings are of particular importance. First, the fact that support within Greek society for the present government and the prime minister remains more or less unchanged. Second, according to several indices, public attitudes towards the issue of the country’s negotiations appear more solid.

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Yes to negotiation, no to retreat, no to elections

The radical change in the political climate ushered in by parliamentary elections on 25/1/15 continues, four months later, to determine the political scene and the relative strength of the parties. Despite the undoubted exacerbation of the social climate and, in particular, the worsening of expectations among households with regard to income and the outlook for the economy, the unprecedented – by Greek standards – post-electoral rallying of support for the new government remains strong (“rally around the flag effect”).

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The social forces of the anti-Memorandum alliance

Who voted for SYRIZA. Change in party support, 2012-2015

Between 2012 and 2015, voter support for SYRIZA grew markedly, by 9.4% (from 26.9% to 36.3%). In just two years, its electoral base had expanded by almost 600,000 to total over 2.2 million voters. But the variations in the social composition of the vote for SYRIZA, as revealed by the most recent election result, have greater political importance. For, as can be seen empirically, for the first time to such a degree, a broad social alliance has been formed against the policy of austerity.

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From 2012 to 2015: Why ND lost the elections

How the shift within the electorate was consolidated after European elections in 2014

The elections of 25 January, which ended the five-year cycle of the Memorandum period in Greece, are proving to be an event of historical importance for the domestic political scene, while their international resonance is no less significant. The “experimental” process of demolishing representative parliamentary democracy, which was attempted, has been suspended.

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Battle for the election agenda. The trends within the electorate during the third week of the parties’ election campaigns

The pre-election period is entering its final and most crucial week. During the past 10 days, New Democracy managed to shift the election agenda, assisted by the terrorist attack in Paris. The momentum generated by this development is recorded in a series of changes in the estimated voter support for the political forces.

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Why New Democracy will lose the elections

The forthcoming elections are of historical importance and will close the cycle of the Memorandum period in Greece. The elections on 25 January will register the reaction of Greek society to what it has endured for the past five years. The social dissatisfaction that has accumulated during the years of implementation of neoliberal policies has clearly (to every well-intentioned analyst) taken on the form of a strong and broadly diverse surge in electoral support for SYRIZA. The magnitude of this surge looks quite likely – today – to result in an albeit slim parliamentary majority.

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SYRIZA continues to grow in strength, as voter support for ND levels off

The government’s latest failings and the relative deterioration of the general political and economic climate, as recorded in this month’s political barometer, clearly do not benefit the government’s standing, nor of course its electoral support. According to Public Issue’s monthly vote estimate (Figure 1), the voting intention for New Democracy remains unchanged in November (27%), while electoral support for the other government partner has dropped slightly (6%, -1%). In contrast, a sizeable segment of the electorate is increasingly turning to the main opposition party, pinning on the latter their hopes for a change in the government policy being implemented. SYRIZA’s voter support, following a decline in October, shows a resurgence in November (+3%) to reach 38.5%

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Crisis of institutions deepening in Greece

Conclusions based on their social legitimization over the past eight years (2007-2014)

The Memorandum has further exacerbated the previously existing, very deep crisis of the delegitimization of representative institutions, banks and the news media. At the same time, the social polarization that has come about is distinctly reflected by the parallel growth of support within Greek society not only for repressive mechanisms (armed forces, police) but also for institutions of unmediated popular sovereignty (people/citizens, social movements).

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Strong electoral surge in favor of main opposition party

Four months after European elections, a strong electoral surge can be seen building in favor of the main opposition party as a consequence of: 1) the momentum of the election result, 2) widespread disapproval of the taxation policy being implemented and 3) the repeated failures of government propaganda. The significant electoral rise of SYRIZA, +5% compared to July, has elevated the main opposition party to voter support levels of around 36%, which would correspond to 146 seats in parliament (with a lower estimate of 142 and upper estimate of 150 seats).

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