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Mapping the Greek party system after the 2015 elections: how the economy and Europe have merged into a single issue

Katsanidou, A. & Otjes, S. (2015) “Mapping the Greek party system after the 2015 elections: how the economy and Europe have merged into a single issue“, LSE EUROPP, 25 February.


The Greek government is still attempting to negotiate a long-term solution to the country’s debt problem, but what are the lasting implications of the 2015 Greek parliamentary elections for politics in Greece? Alexia Katsanidou and Simon Otjes present a new model for understanding the Greek party system. They argue that with the country’s economy becoming so closely linked to the issue of Europe, politics within Greece can no longer be understood along traditional left-right lines. Instead parties are now distinguished on the one hand by their stance toward the country’s bailout programme, and on the other by a cultural dimension which incorporates their stances on immigration and other socio-cultural issues.

Most of the coverage following the Greek elections on 25 January has focused on the new government’s attempts to negotiate a deal over the country’s debt – with a provisional four month extension of the existing bailout programme being announced on 20 February. The elections were also significant, however, due to the profound changes which have taken place in the Greek party system since the previous parliamentary elections in 2012.

The result of the elections initially puzzled many observers given the nature of the new governing coalition. The government that emerged consisted of Alexis Tsipras’ Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) and the Independent Greeks (ANEL), a nationalist, populist party. This raised the question as to why a party of the radical left would choose to cooperate with a radical right-wing populist party. The key to understanding why this occurred is to appreciate the changing nature of the Greek political space.


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