Fragmented left could spell reelection for conservative Greek government, say Turkish analysts

The fragmented state of the Greek left could hand the governing conservative Nea Dimokratia (ND) a fresh victory in elections this summer, according to Turkish analysts.

While in power in 2015-2019, the left-wing SYRIZA-PS government let down not just its own voters but also the entire population by imposing severe austerity measures that left people with less purchasing power and social welfare, former diplomat Gulru Gezer told Anadolu.

Now a foreign policy analyst, Gezer emphasized that during its tenure, the leftist party's policies pushed away many votes from young people and pensioners, who switched to the ND.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis came to power with promises of reform and economic stability, she explained, adding that the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic that broke out less than a year after he took office was swift and efficient.

She also highlighted that Mitsotakis successfully took advantage of favorable international conditions and boosted Greece's position by further improving relations with France and the US despite strong opposition from the left.

However, this relatively positive outlook was spoiled when the "Greek Watergate" scandal erupted last summer after it emerged that the leader of the opposition PASOK party, as well as many active and former politicians, including some allies of the premier and senior soldiers, businessmen, and journalists, were wiretapped by the country's intelligence agency.

"Furthermore, the Greek economy is still fragile and protests are frequent. Mitsotakis acknowledges the shortcomings of his government and claims he is the one that can solve the country's problems," Gezer said.

According to her, Mitsotakis knows these problems can cost him the elections to be held later this year and hence opted to escalate tensions with Ankara since last May to switch the public's focus away from domestic problems.

"Mitsotakis will continue with his war rhetoric until the elections, as fear of a potential Turkish assault wins votes for any Greek party in government," she added.

Moreover, Gezer stressed, the current electoral system can force a coalition government even if ND emerges with the most votes.

In such a scenario, PASOK would be the kingmaker. However, one should remember that the scandal endangered a possible coalition between ND and PASOK, she said. "If ND is not able to form a coalition government, then there might be a second round of elections. There is fear in Greece that Mitsotakis might lean to the far-right to stay in power."

Also speaking to Anadolu, Cagla Derya Tamat, a senior scholar of Turkish-Greek affairs at Türkiye's Ankara University, agreed that the left in Greece suffered from historical and structural divisions that undermine its chance of winning the incoming elections.

Besides, she stressed, Greek people don't expect major changes in the economy or foreign policy of the previous SYRIZA government.

So, she asked, why would they choose SYRIZA to rule the country in the same way as the ND is now?

Tamat added that the ND government would be unlikely to de-escalate tensions with Ankara as it doesn't want to appear weak on the eve of the elections.

"However, I'm convinced that the tension would never escalate into a full-scale war between the two NATO allies," Tamat underlined.

Source: Anadolu Agency