Centre-left politics has been dealt a crushing blow in Greece. What can we learn from it?

Marina Prentoulis

New Democracy’s victory was not unexpected, but the eye-watering share of the vote the party received is a different matter. The conservative government often points to its record of growth and investment, backed by European Commission forecasts, but the proceeds of this have not been felt evenly: a growing number of Greece’s population over the same period have dealt with low wages, low pensions, high rents and a painful cost of living crisis. The disparity between what is on paper and the bleak reality on the ground is striking. So why are the conservatives still out in front, with an outright majority within their grasp? It seems the promises of stability, growth and impenetrable borders have paid off.

But there is also the question of the sorry state of the opposition. For Syriza, the high of the 2015 electoral triumph at the peak of the eurozone’s financial crisis was quickly tempered by the imposition of loans from Greece’s creditors that demanded huge sacrifices by the Greek people in order to control the country’s spiralling debt. The return of New Democracy to power in 2019 made clear the extent of disillusionment and hopelessness that Syriza’s base felt after voting against a bailout in a referendum – and then watching their government accept one.

Since then the party leadership’s strategy has been to return to the centre ground to attract more moderate voters – and it has failed spectacularly. On top of that, the absence of any sign of contrition or self-reflection for the years Syriza was in government further alienated its electoral base….