In Greek elections, 250 of the 300 parliamentary seats are awarded proportionally with a 3% threshold. The remaining 50 seats are given en bloc to the party winning more votes than any other party. This “majority bonus” system has been repealed, but this change will not occur until the next election, and the new government could undo the repeal.
At the election held on July 7, the conservative New Democracy (ND) won 158 of the 300 seats (up 83 since the September 2015 election), the far-left SYRIZA 86 (down 59), the social democratic KINAL 22 (up five) and the Communists 15 (steady). Two new parties – the pro-Russian Greek Solution and the far-left MeRA25 – won ten and nine seats respectively. ND will have a 16-seat majority in the new parliament.
The biggest loser was the extreme right Golden Dawn, which missed the 3% threshold and lost all its 18 seats.
Vote shares were 39.9% ND (up 11.8%), 31.5% SYRIZA (down 3.9%), 8.1% KINAL (up 1.7%), 5.3% Communists (down 0.3%), 3.7% Greek Solution, 3.4% MeRA25 and 2.9% Golden Dawn (down 4.1%). It is the ND’s highest vote share since 2007, and the first majority Greek government since 2009.
The majority bonus gave ND its majority. Without those 50 seats, ND would have won 108 of the 250 proportionally allocated seats, and would have been 18 seats short of a majority with other parties mostly left-leaning. As SYRIZA won the majority bonus in 2015, the ND and SYRIZA seat changes are much bigger than they would otherwise be.
Greek politics was once dominated by ND and the social democratic PASOK. In 2009, PASOK won 160 of the 300 seats on 44% of the votes. The global financial crisis ended this two party dominance, with PASOK winning just 41 seats and 13% in May 2012 as SYRIZA gained 12% to rise to 17%. SYRIZA then came second in June 2012 with 27%.
SYRIZA formed its first government after the January 2015 election and retained office in September 2015 as PASOK almost disappeared. PASOK is now part of the KINAL alliance.
The Greek economy grew 1.3% in the year to March 2019 as it recovers from the financial crisis. But the unemployment rate is still 18%, and this probably explains why SYRIZA was defeated: although the economy is recovering, it has not recovered enough.
Left wins Istanbul mayoral election after re-vote
Local government elections were held in Turkey on March 31. The conservative AKP and its ally, the far-right MHP, combined won 50.0% of the national vote. The social democratic CHP won 29.8%, the secularist IYI won 7.8% and the Kurdish HDP 4.5%.
Overall, this election was a strong performance by the AKP under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been either the PM or President since 2003. However, the AKP lost mayoral elections in the cities of Ankara and Istanbul to the CHP. In Ankara, the CHP’s winning margin was 3.8%, but it was just 0.16% in Istanbul.
Owing to the closeness of the Istanbul vote, the AKP challenged in court, and the result was annulled, with a new election scheduled for June 23. At this re-election, the CHP mayoral candidate, Ekrem İmamoğlu, won by a far larger margin than originally (54.2-45.0, a 9.2% margin).
This election was seen as a blow to Erdoğan, who had begun his political career by winning the Istanbul mayoralty in 1994. In general, voters dislike new elections caused by a party’s unwillingness to accept a close defeat, and will punish parties requesting such elections.
Recent elections have shown a pattern of cities trending towards the left, while regional areas tend to the right. In that light, the losses of Ankara and Istanbul are not a shock, and there is a great deal of Turkey outside the big cities.