This seems to have gotten very little attention, but Greece changed governments last week. The ruling center-right New Democracy (ND) party called elections a couple of months ago, and the result was that — predictably — they got stomped hard.
ND had a wafer-thin majority of 152 seats out of 300; they lost 61 (!) seats, and are left with just 91. The rival Socialists jumped from 102 seats to 160, which will allow them to govern alone.
Two of the three minor parties — the Communists and the Radical Left — stayed about the same. The third minor party, the Popular Orthodox Rally, jumped from 10 seats to 15. That’s kind of depressing, because the Popular Orthodox guys are assholes. They’re your classic Balkan Obnoxious Populist-Nationalist Party; insofar as they have a platform, it’s “Hate Albanians and cut taxes”.
One thing I still don’t understand is why ND called this election. Yeah, narrow majority, economic crisis, blah blah. The ND government was only two years old; they could have clung to power another couple of years. They didn’t expect to lose this badly, of course, but the polls made it clear they were going to get kicked out of government. Can anyone shed light on this?
As for the new government: they say they’ll enact an economic stimulus package. Otherwise, from this distance they look pretty similar to the other guys. Again, more detail is welcome.
That said, it’s noteworthy to see a left/center left party win power in Europe these days. (And in a landslide, too.) That hasn’t been happening much lately.
Trivia: outgoing Prime Minister Karamanlis was the nephew of a previous Prime Minister, while incoming Prime Minister Papandreou was the son and grandson of previous Prime Ministers. I would say Greece needs a whosekidareyou site, but on the other hand probably not — it’s not exactly a secret.