New Democracy’s Booby-Prize

New Democracy (ND) party supporters celebrate as they watch the exit polls at the party’s main election campaign kiosk in Athens on June 17, 2012. T

Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/GettyImages

Greece’s center-right New Democracy party seems to have eked out a win over the leftist Syriza, and the non-Syriza non-fascist non-communist parties should have enough seats in parliament to form a ND-led coalition government.

That said, this looks a lot like a booby prize to me. To get a majority, New Democracy will need to depend on the support of its traditional center-left rival Pasok (who’s now been overtaken by Syriza as the main left-wing party) and an additional left-wing party which is going to be very awkward. What’s more, New Democracy’s mandate, such as it is, will more or less be to implement the marching orders from Brussels, Frankfurt, and Berlin. That means presiding over a combination of foreign domination of Greek policymaking and mass unemployment. It’s not at all clear that Syriza’s alternative policy of simply refusing to implement austerity measures and hoping that induces the Germans to blink made any more sense on the merits, but having lost Syriza on the left and the far-right Golden Dawn will now get to just sit on the sidelines and complain about what’s sure to be a very unpopular coalition riven by ideological factionalism. Any ND-led coalition is likely to collapse sooner tather than later, and Syriza will be well-positioned to try to pick up the pieces.

For now, though, the question is whether the Germans will see fit to offer slightly more generous terms to the Greek government than were previously on the table as a “reward” to their voters for doing the Very Serious thing and keeping Syriza out of office.