The Greek election, in one extremely indecisive table

at 11:00 AM ET, 06/01/2012

The fate of the euro — and, perhaps, the global economy — could rest on the elections in Greece on June 17. No pressure or anything. And the Greeks still can’t make up their minds on which way to vote. Polls have been lurching wildly back and forth.


Syriza’s Alex Tsipras wants your vote. (Reuters)
Let’s recall the background. Greece owes a whole bunch of money it can’t repay. In February, the country received a $140 billion bailout from the IMF, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission. In exchange, Greece is supposed to make a bunch of sharp spending cuts. Greek voters don’t like this, given that their country’s economy is already in tatters. But if they don’t accept further austerity, they might not get the bailout. And that could mean a Greek exit from the euro. Possible doom to ensue.

So that’s the context for the upcoming Greek parliamentary elections. The party that voters back could determine Greece’s fate. On the one hand, there’s Syriza, the far-left party that’s threatening to rip up the bailout-for-austerity agreement. That sounds awfully enticing to voters. On the other hand, there’s the pro-bailout New Democracy party, which wants to renegotiate the agreement a bit — maybe wheedle some more aid out of Germany — but isn’t ready to do anything drastic that might get the country booted from the euro. That pro-euro stance is also popular with voters.

So Syriza and New Democracy keep alternating leads. The most recent poll has Syriza in the lead with 31.5 percent of the vote. Earlier polls had New Democracy ahead. Masa Serdarevic (using Reuters data) created this handy table of all the polling results to date, with the leaders in bold:

Keep in mind that the winning party gets an extra 50 seats in the 300-seat parliament. So the key question, as LSE’s Kevin Featherstone explained a few weeks ago, is whether the June elections will allow any of the Greek parties to form a working government. One possibility is that ND takes the lead and tries to form a government with the pro-bailout Pasok. In that case, they might try to pick up support from the Democratic Left, which wants to stay in the euro but doesn’t approve of the bailout.

That ambivalent position seems to reflect the attitude of most Greeks. Polls suggest most people want the country to remain in the euro, but they’d rather not endure too much wrenching austerity, which only seems to be making everything worse. And Syriza is convincing many voters that it can thread this needle. “There’s a delusion in the public debate in Greece that Syriza can persuade the euro zone not to kick us out, that we can play this game of poker and they will concede,” Featherstone said. “That’s very risky.”

But how risky? On that question, it seems like the Greek public still can’t make up its mind.

 
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