Vicky Pryce: An ominous vote from Athens that shows Greeks have had enough
A JOKE was circulating in Greece, only one of two countries in Europe along with Belgium where voting is compulsory, that to prevent the right-wing New Democracy from getting a large share of the votes one had a duty to lock up all the conservative-inclined grannies and granddads in their houses to stop them from voting.
And maybe it worked. New Democracy, though emerging as the largest party, only gained around 19 per cent of the vote, much less than the earlier polls were indicating. But the greatest shock was for the socialist Pasok, the previous ruling party, which came third with just 13 per cent, beaten by a new left-wing party called Syriza which won nearly 17 per cent of the vote.
Syriza wants to renegotiate the austerity package imposed on Greece as a condition for its bailout packages. This seemed to be the common theme across the myriad of new parties that sprang up, both on the left and right. By splitting the votes, they managed to end what has for the past 38 years since the collapse of the junta in 1974 been a cosy two-party system run by family dynasties and which has left Greece with a culture of nepotism, corruption and administrative incompetence.