PASOK Wins in Greece

PASOK Leader George Papandreou

PASOK Leader George Papandreou

Proving that social democracy’s not dying all across Europe, Greece’s opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement scored a big win in today’s election, acquiring an absolute majority in parliament. Having the election at all looks to have been a tactical error on the part of the governing right:

Mr Karamanlis called the election in early September, half way through his four-year term.

He said he wanted a new mandate to tackle Greece’s economic problems, but his opponents say he has failed to fullfil promises to clean up public office and to modernise the country.

The government has also been hit by a series of corruption scandals.

Mr Papandreou has promised he will build a green economy and bring in foreign experts to help Greece overcome its problems if elected.

From an American perspective there’s something interesting about the idea of a politician avowing a desire to learn from foreigners. Of course rather than reading broad ideological significance into this the main thing to say is probably that it’s natural for opposition parties to benefit from an economic crisis. That’s what’s happening in the UK and Spain where the left is in power, and you also saw it in Iceland earlier in Greece today and probably in Ireland soon. What’s interesting is that France, Germany, and Italy you aren’t seeing this kind of clear anti-incumbent effect. Part of the explanation is probably that the center-left is unusually divided in all of those countries.