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Greek Election: Politicians Lining Up in Athens

The international spotlight will be trained on Greek politics in May, as a Greek population straining at the reins of austerity takes to the ballot box.

The Greek national flag is seen flying above the parliament building on Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece, on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012.
Bloomberg
The Greek national flag is seen flying above the parliament building on Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece, on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012.

The election to replace the current coalition technocratic government with a fully elected cabinet has been called for May 6. While Greek elections are usually a competition between Pasok and New Democracy, the two traditionally most popular parties, which have signed up to the conditions of Greece’s second international bailout, are facing stiff competition from less mainstream movement.

Here, we take a look at the parties hoping for Greek votes in May which will need over 3 percent of the vote to enter the Greek Parliament.

Pasok

Led by former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, socialist Pasok was the biggest party in Greece after the last election, but has seen its position slip as Greece’s troubles mounted in recent months, culminating in the departure ofGeorge Papandreou, son of the man who founded Pasok, as Prime Minister. The latest polls show them holding around 14 percent of the vote, down from 43 percent in the 2009 election, and they may have to continue in coalition with New Democracy if they want to cling on to power.

New Democracy

Greece’s most popular conservative party, led by Antonis Samaras, has led the field in recent polls – but is still likely to see its share of the vote shrink from 2009 elections, when it captured around 34 percent of the vote. Samaras has insisted that he wants to avoid another coalition with Pasok.

The Communist Party (KKE)

Greece’s oldest party, which played a key part in recent anti-austerity protests in Athens, is hoping for a boost to its 7.5 percent share of the vote in the last election, from some of those disillusioned with Pasok’s handling of the economy. This could lead to a place in a coalition government – the KKE has previously formed part of coalition rule with Pasok. Recent polls show it capturing around 12 percent of the vote.

Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza)

This union of several left-wing Greek political parties, formed during anti-capitalism protests in

the early years of the twenty-first century, has previously been noted more for squabbling amongst its members than its legislative clout. Yet polls now suggest that it has raised its share of support from around 5 percent to 12.5 percent.

Popular Orthodox Rally (Laos)

This right-wing party was set up by a disgruntled former New Democracy politician just over a decade ago. It was known for its anti-immigration stance and being opposed to greater power being granted to the European Parliament, even when the European Union was more popular in Greece. Laos formed part of the initial coalition set up last year after the resignation of George Papandreou as Prime Minister, but left in February as Greece’s second bailout was passed. Its support has waned in recent polls.

Democratic Left

Several dissident Pasok MPs have abandoned the mainstream party for this more left-wing party, which emerged just two years ago as a less extreme alternative to Syriza. Polls suggest that some Greek voters are following them.

Independent Greeks

Founded by ousted New Democracy MP Panos Kammenos less than two months ago, this right-wing party is on course to attract 8.5 percent in its first shot at election, according to most recent polls. Kammenos, who had been a popular, bombastic backbencher, was pushed out of ND in November after refusing to back the coalition. He has argued that Greece should look for another bailout from Russia rather than the EU.

Chrysi Avgi

This extreme right-wing party, whose name translates as Golden Dawn, has links to neo-fascist parties around the world. It has often attracted controversy, with two high profile murderers linked to the group, and a leader who allegedly used the Nazi salute at an Athens Municipal Council meeting. This could be the first time the extreme party garners enough votes to enter Parliament.

Contact Europe: Economy

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