France, Greece, Serbia – elections under the impact of austerity

The first weekend of May is proving extremely eventful. Let’s take a look around…
Sunday, 6 May 2012, the main event will be, of course, France presidential election.  Some 46 million French will decide who will be their new President: Sarkozy or Hollande. Elections are running in Serbia and Greece, too. About the elections in France I will refer in a separate post.

Belgrad - Tadic’s strategy may works ?

Also Serbia is to hold presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections on Sunday. Tadic’s surprise resignation in April paved the way for early elections. But, according Businesswek, “the Serbian Democratic Party may lose May 6 general elections, while its leader, President Boris Tadic, will be forced into a runoff as voters reject moves to bring the former Yugoslav republic to the European Union. As governments from Ireland to Italy fall in a wave of anger over austerity, Tadic’s strategy to link a presidential vote to general elections to help his party may have fizzled.”. The build-up to the marathon vote has been dominated by economic issues, overshadowing debates about the country’s bid to join the EU. A struggling economy, growing joblessness (Serbia is plagued by unemployment of 24% and foreign debt of 24bn euros (£19.5bn; $31.5bn) and widespread discontent over falling living standards have taken center stage in Serbia’s election campaign, pushing aside debates over the country’s EU ambitions. Although is the main priority of Serbia’s foreign policy, European Union integration was outdated and uninteresting in the election campaign, even if Serbia was declared an official candidate for EU membership in March. Another central political issue in Serbia, which has hardly been mentioned in the election campaign, is the dispute over Kosovo. Serbia still refuses to recognize the sovereignty of the breakaway province (which declared independence in 2008), but pressures are rising from the EU on this issue. Notice that most political parties agree on this position towards Kosovo. But experts believe it will reach a compromise, both leading candidates, Boris Tadic from the reformist Democratic Party and his closest rival, opposition leader Tomislav Nikolic from the nationalist Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), want to steer Serbia towards the European Union. According Reuters News Agency, their parties are expected to form the strongest political groups in the future Serbian parliament.

Athena - Nothing new under the sun of Hellenic Republic

Also, the Greeks will choose Sunday between IMF-imposed austerity measures and leaving the euro. Will be the most disputed elections since 1974, and will mark a dangerous revival of extremist parties and decide the future single currency. Economic crisis and corruption among the political class have made as the surveys to show that in parliament will get about ten political parties (of the 32 formations entered in the electoral competition) from just five, at the previous election. Experts believe that the new extremist parliamentary parties will be the big winners of elections in Greece. With regard to post-election scenarios, Business Insider claims that Greece will be conducted after elections by the same coalition of conservatives and socialists, but the head will be another leader. As the threshold is 3% and competing 32 parties, many votes will dissipate, and the two big parties will get more seats than votes received would indicate. Since the restoration of the democratic regime in Greece, in 1974, conservatives and socialists were obtained with between 70 and 80% of votes, but polls now show a fall to below 40%.

UpdateFirst Official Greek Exit Polls – according to exit polls from NET TV, the results are as follows:

  • New Democracy: 17-20%
  • Pasok: 14-17%
  • In a stunner, Syrizia, or the coalition of the radical left – a vehement anti-Bailout party – gets more votes than the ruling PASOK party: 15.5%-18.5%
  • Independent Greeks: 10-12%
  • Finally, and not surprisingly in the aftermath of the French results, the ultra right Golden Dawn gets 6-8% of the vote and will make it into Parliament
Update_2: Early results in Greece’s parliamentary election suggest the two main parties have suffered dramatic losses. With 11% of the vote counted, centre-right New Democracy is in the lead with 22%, down from 33.5% in 2009. Centre-left Pasok is in second place with 16%, down from 43.9% in the last elections. Syriza, a left-wing coalition, is in third place with 15%. It could rises the instability for Greece. New Democracy may be unable to form a government, there may be calls for a fresh election and possibly even anti-bailout parties from the left and right may attempt to form a coalition.
Update_3: A new election seems increasingly likely within weeks after two days of failed efforts to reach an agreement among parties deeply divided over whether to stick to a program that saved Greece from bankruptcy but caused steep economic hardship.


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