Monday, 16 July 2012

National Democracy in Crisis – Lessons from the Greek Elections

The Greek political system has come under intense scrutiny in the past few months. The two successive electoral contests that took place on May 6 and June 17 opened a Pandora’s box, so to say, of democratic ailments: extremism, populism, witch-hunting, and fearmongering. Viewed from the perspective of five successive years of recession, unprecedented levels of austerity, and acute economic uncertainty, this should come as no surprise. The interested observer will of course also wonder about possible contagion effects, not only with respect to Greece’s economic woes but also its political maladies. The logical path of inquiry into this question will have to address the root causes of the unfolding crisis and the extent to which they are idiosyncratic, systemic, or a combination of both. My goal in this article is to examine the latest election results as manifestations of either systemic or endemic democratic trends.