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The radicalisation of lower middle class Greek families was the key to Syriza’s victory

Leonitsis, V. (2015) “The radicalisation of lower middle class Greek families was the key to Syriza’s victory, LSE EUROPP, 13 February.


A number of commentators have written on the extent to which Syriza managed to attract the backing of a wide section of Greek society in its election victory on 25 January. Vasilis Leontitsis writes that one of the key dynamics in the election was the support Syriza received from lower middle class families. He argues that while such families had tended to vote conservatively in previous elections, the net effect of the country’s economic crisis was to radicalise this section of the electorate and push them toward parties with more radical platforms.

The recent national elections in Greece have brought about a major shift in the Greek and European political landscape. This is the first time that a radical left party has won national elections in Greece and, indeed, in Western Europe. This by itself is a major feat for Syriza and Alexis Tsipras, the party’s charismatic populist leader.

However, there is one aspect that the post-election political discussion has largely overlooked. This is that behind the radical shift experienced in Greece lies the fact that the average Greek family as a major institution of Greek society is not necessarily influenced by the ideological struggle between the left and the right. Naturally, there have been elements of ideational influence in recent elections. However, even more importantly, Greek families have shown practical concerns and have fought, in many respects, for their self-preservation.

The radicalisation of lower-middle class Greek families

The family was and still remains the cornerstone of Greek society. It is based on mutual help and symbiotic relations among its members. In a country where the state has never been able to provide a comprehensive social safety net, the family is perceived as an inviolable institution able to absorb external shocks when necessary. It has thus historically allowed its members to weather social and financial storms.


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