Our defeat in context: Greece’s Erdogan-isation is almost complete

The people spoke. Unlike in 2019, when MeRA25 won nine seats in Greece’s Parliament, in Sunday’s election we failed to clear the 3% hurdle, thus, electing no MPs. However, this freshly minted Parliament was condemned before it got a chance to convene. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the conservative party leader, who won handsomely, is about to dissolve it so as to secure another general election, in less than a month, to be fought on a less proportional electoral system that, he trusts, will deliver him a thumping parliamentary majority.

So, MeRA25 lives to fight another day. Bruised by an election outcome at odds not only with all opinion polls (which predicted we would be gaining between 50% and 80% more votes than in 2019) but also with the enthusiasm we encountered everywhere we went (e.g., with the large crowds that came to our rallies), we are dusting ourselves off and readying to go out there to campaign once more. Clearly, we have a lot of soul-searching to do – but only after the next election is over and done with and we have fought the good fight to make amends for yesterday’s failure.

For now, I leave you with two thoughts about the big picture that emerged out of the ballot boxes yesterday across Greece; a blue-cum-black picture reflecting the ultra-rightist tsunami that swept the land.

First, there is a cunning resemblance between what happened yesterday here in Greece and what happened last week in Turkey. President Erdogan of Turkey had presided over a people sinking fast into poverty, economic policies that are clearly not fit for purpose, and a logistical debacle following the lethal earthquake which cost thousands of lives. However, deploying cleverly a combination of ultra-nationalism, social conservatism, a pro-Big Business agenda, a network of patronage, and huge doses of authoritarianism, Erdogan managed to reproduce his electoral and discursive hegemony. Exactly the same can be said about Mitsotakis: He presided over a steady diminution of median real incomes, had a terrible pandemic, many of our forests burned down on his watch, was caught red-handed eavesdropping on his political opponents and even his own ministers, behaved outrageously when 57 young people were killed in an avoidable railway accident etc. And yet, like Erdogan, deploying cleverly a combination of ultra-nationalism, social conservatism, a pro-Big Business agenda, a network of patronage and huge doses of authoritarianism, Mitsotakis managed to reproduce his electoral and discursive hegemony.

Secondly, MeRA25 seems to have suffered because we tried to inspire our base with hard-hitting truths and a call to arms, rather than soothing narratives falsely claiming that we could costlessly turn things around for the many. For instance, we exposed the lie that Greece had turned the economic corner by demonstrating that, against the grain of the financial sector’s fibs, the Greek state and the Greek private sector were more bankrupt than ever; that the only way the many can recover some of their real incomes and control over their lives is by clashing with an ironclad establishment. It turned out that the voters did not want to hear bad news, nor cared for calls to arms. It is not that they are naïve enough to believe the rubbish about Greece’s so-called ‘Success Story’. They buy none of it. Nevertheless, they are tired of bad news; they are tired of struggles, battles and war cries.

This is the mountain MeRA25 must now climb: How to persuade bad-news-averse marginal voters to vote for us again without plying them with soothing lies.

 

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