Greek Election: Syriza 2.0 vs. What’s Left

Greece is going to the polls again. Here’s the state of play.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras At Sto Kokkino Radio Station

Alexis Tsipras, Greece's prime minister, speaks during a live interview at Sto Kokkino radio station in Athens, Greece, on Wednesday, July 29, 2015.

Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is betting he has more chance of building a governing coalition from Greece’s fractured political landscape after a new election than by trying to rein in rebels within his party.

As Tsipras seeks allies that can help him meet the conditions of the country’s third bailout package, here’s what he’s got to work with. Polling numbers come from the latest survey, published by Metron Analysis last month.

Syriza

Tsipras’s Syriza swept to power on wave of anti-austerity sentiment in January after years of relative obscurity. The party was polling in fifth place before the debt crisis blew up in 2009. Eight months on from his emphatic election victory, Tsipras’s U-turn in accepting a third bailout and all its conditions has split his party, with at least 25 lawmakers breaking away to form a new anti-bailout group.

The election is the 41-year-old leader’s bid to reassert his hold over the country. He’s trying to reinvent Syriza as a center-left, pro-bailout force and the euro area’s best partner for implementing structural economic reforms.

Support: 34 percent

New Democracy

Founded after the fall of a military dictatorship in 1974, pro-business New Democracy became one of the two parties that dominated Greek politics over the next four decades.

Evangelos Meimarakis, a 61-year-old former defense minister and parliament speaker, became interim leader after former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras stood down last month. The party will elect a permanent leader in the fall.

Meimarakis is charged with stemming the decline of a party tainted by association with the country’s previous bailouts. New Democracy got 28 percent in the January elections, compared with 42 percent in its 2007 election victory.

Support: 18 percent

To Potami

Meaning “The River,” the party has 17 seats in the Greek Parliament. It is part of Europe’s liberal political family that champions open markets. Founded in 2014 by former television journalist Stavros Theodorakis, To Potami had hoped to be kingmaker after the Jan. 25 election, only to see its hopes dashed by Tsipras’s tie-up with Independent Greeks.

The party supported Greece’s third aid package and Theodorakis has expressed interest in being part of a governing coalition after the upcoming elections.

Support: 6.1 percent

Golden Dawn

Far-Right and Radical Left Gear up for Greek Vote

Far-right Golden Dawn, whose crest resembles a swastika, has called for the expulsion of all undocumented immigrants and for Greece’s borders to be protected by land mines.

Founded and led by Nikolaos Michaloliakos, born in 1957, the party tapped into anti-bailout and anti-establishment sentiment to place third in January.

Michaloliakos and several other party lawmakers are on trial facing charges of running a criminal organization. He contested the last election from behind bars.

Support: 5.3 percent

The Communist Party of Greece

Greece’s communist party, or KKE, is the oldest political alliance in the country. It was founded in 1918 in the aftermath of the Russian revolution.

The party, led by 60-year-old Dimitris Koutsoumpas, remains a hardline, anti-capitalist force, capturing between 4 percent and 14 percent of the national vote over the past four decades. During the Greek debt crisis, KKE has been more unyielding in its opposition to the austerity tied to Greece’s international aid packages than Syriza has been.

KKE has 15 seats in the Greek Parliament and the party’s members were joined by the rebel Syriza faction in voting against the new aid program for Greece. It has repeatedly shown itself unwilling to cooperate with other anti-bailout forces, making any kind of alliance with the rebels unlikely.

Support: 4.2 percent

Pasok

The Socialist group has governed Greece for 21 years since its first victory in 1981, though is struggling to stay alive.

The party has hemorrhaged support since leading Greece into its first international rescue in 2010 under then Prime Minister George Papandreou, son of the party’s founder.

Pasok, which served as a junior partner in the New Democracy coalition ousted by Syriza this year, won 5 percent of the vote in January 2015 compared with more than 40 percent in October 2009 general elections. Fofi Gennimata took over from Evangelos Venizelos as leader in June and led her 13 lawmakers in backing the third bailout.

Support: 3.6 percent

Independent Greeks

The junior partner in the outgoing coalition, Independent Greeks share Syriza’s skepticism of German-fashioned budget austerity and its populist bent but little else.

Led by Panos Kammenos, who served as defense minister under Tsipras, the party was founded in 2012 by members of New Democracy who had become disenchanted with Greece’s first two aid packages. The group, with 13 seats in the parliament, ended up supporting the third rescue negotiated under Tsipras. Kammenos has vowed to cooperate with Tsipras again.

Support: 2.8 percent

Popular Unity

The newcomers. Popular Unity was formed on Friday when 25 rebel lawmakers broke away from Syriza to create their own anti-bailout group.

Led by former Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, they say Syriza should have stuck to its January election pledges to end austerity, even if that meant leaving the euro.

How they perform in the elections, with little time to organize, is one of the wildcards of the election. If they get near to 10 percent, Tsipras could find forming a new government harder than he might have hoped.

Support: Who knows?

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