Collapse and Re-Emergence of the Two-Party System in Greece

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-3-73-80
Yu. Kvashnin (, 
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation

Abstract. The article examines the Greek party system under the Third Republic and identifies the key trends in its development during the years of the “great recession” (2008–2016) and the subsequent post-crisis recovery. Economic and social cataclysms led to the political fragmentation, the decline of the once largest party PASOK, the rise of radical parties, both left and right wing. However, the period of political chaos was short-lived. As a result, Greece has come to a quasi-two-party system, similar to the one that functioned in the pre-crisis decades. The return to normalcy was partly caused by the failure of the anti-European agenda, which brought SYRIZA and Independent Greeks to power in 2015 on the crest of a populist wave. But there were other reasons. First, the revitalization of the bipartisan system was facilitated by a reinforced proportional electoral system, which gave 50 bonus seats to the leading party. Second, political competition is constrained by the conservatism of Greek society, its weak susceptibility to new ideas (liberal, «green», regionalist, etc.). Third, bipartisanship is cemented by widespread clientelistic ties between the largest parties and voters who receive public sector jobs and other benefits in exchange for their loyalty. Fourth, the lion’s share of media resources is concentrated in the hands of a small number of media moguls associated with the leading parties, and citizens receive rather scant information about smaller political actors. These factors contribute to political stability, but at the same time they limit political competition, which poses serious risks for the country.

Keywords: Greece, party system, electoral system, bipartisanship, left radicalism, right populism, nationalism, euroscepticism, clientelism


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For citation:
Kvashnin Y. Collapse and Re-Emergence of the Two-Party System in Greece. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 3, pp. 73-80.

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