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The Day After EU Elections in Greece

The 2014 election in Greece for the election of the delegation from Greece to the European Parliament has taken place, and as the polls closed down we are reporting the nearly final  interior ministry assessments.

SYRIZA: 26.57%

New Democracy: 22.71%

Elia: 8.02%

Golden Dawn: 9.4%

To Potami: 6.6%

KKE (Communist Party): 6.09%

ANEL: 3.46%

LAOS: 2.07%

According to Jim Yardley of the New York Times the "the vote has become a de facto referendum on the governing coalition and a test of whether ordinary citizens believe the government’s assertion that the country is finally on the upswing."

Most certainly, the contest has primarily been about settling scores from the last national elections. The country is currently ruled by a coalition government of ND and PASOK, which attempts to implement unpopular austerity measures at a great cost to its public support. After a series of defections since 2012, the coalition government has seen its number of lawmakers decrease from 179 to only 153 in the 300-seat parliament.

Alexis Tsipras, the leader of SYRIZA, earlierr said that “I remind you, that last Sunday I had said that the most goals are scored in the second round.”

Mr Tsipras has declared that if his party finishes first in the European Parliament elections,it will not recognize the government’s mandate. The same will happen if SYRIZA obtains positive results in local elections across Greece. What this means is unclear. In either case, SYRIZA is almost certain to push for national elections to be held in 2014 hoping to win, and then cancel the bailout terms. But how this can happen without an actual defection of at least 3 supporting deputies is unclear.

Of course, high rates of electoral abstention were a key factor. Although abstention has been constantly on the rise (voter turnout has declined from a high 78.6 percent in 1981 to only 52.6 percent in the European elections of 2009), the local elections combined with increased polarization may halt, or even slightly reverse, this trend.

But on the mind of many Europeans is what is going to happen to Europe given an anti-EU forces win over pro-EU ones. It may seem like not much, given that Greece occupies just 21 out of 751 seats in the European Parliament. But if one sees takes the longer view, onemight just see that the Greek vote is quite consequential for the EU project, especially in light of the gravity lent it by EU leaders at all levels.

The economic crisis, has eroded the idea that the European project would be a one-way street to economic prosperity. The representation crisis, secondly, is rendering dubious the time-honored practice of voters delegating decisions to their representatives in Brussels and Strasbourg. It is also the main cause of rising euro-scepticism. The crisis of liberal democracy, finally, is becoming evident with the proliferation of non-democratic (and, often, neo-fascist) parties, which for the first time in postwar history are now electorally significant.

All these together have basically destroyed the what the Eu was based upon the support of citizens in return for economic prosperity and political democracy. To understand Europe’s current predicament, you have to look no further than its most troubled member, Greece.

The significance and size of the Greek crisis has caused the country to be vaulted into a symbolic identity this battle throughout Europe between pro-EU and anti-EU forces. For Europeans it looks like with the majority of the Greek representation in the European Parliament coming from a miscellany of populist forces will be ready to throw into question the core principles of European integration as conceived by its early architects and pursued thereafter – political liberalism, open markets, an ever closer union.

This is no small damage. For the simple reason that, with Greece serving as a clear marker of disenchantment with the EU project, others may be tempted to follow.