- Wikipedia has a seemingly exhaustive list of opinion polls, which appears to be updated every day or almost every day. The numbers there have been recalculated where necessary to exclude any “undecided” or “would not vote” percentage, so the totals of each poll add up to 100%.
- As of tonight, there have been a staggering 17 polls by 15 different pollsters in the last week (Alco and Rass both published two). Taking the average of the most recent poll from each pollster (i.e. excluding the older of the two polls by Alco and Rass), Syriza gets an average 34.8% of the vote, New Democracy gets 30.4%; see the spreadsheet linked below.
- The Greek electoral system, based on proportional representation, is marked by two peculiarities. The first is an electoral threshold of 3%; any party getting less than that gets no seats. The second is that the party with the greatest number of votes gets a bonus 50 seats, with the aim of increasing political stability. (The only other example I can think of that follows this model is how one of Italy’s two houses of parliament was elected in the past decade.) In total the Greek parliament has 300 seats, so for a governing majority you need 151.
- Right now, according to the average of recent polls, almost 9% of Greeks would vote for parties that are set to miss the 3% threshold. Those includes the newly launched outfit of former Prime Minister George Papandreou, To Kinima, which is polling at an average of 2.7%, and Dimar, which has declined so much it’s usually not listed separately in polling results anymore. This means that the 250 parliamentary seats that are allocated proportionally are divided up based on the votes of about 91% of the electorate.
For 9% of Greek voters to miss out on parliamentary representation would be a shame, but it would hardly be unprecedented; in the May 2012 elections, an astonishing 18% of them voted for minor parties that got less than 3% each. (They wizened up in the elections two months later though, when just 6% did.)
Here it is – or go and see it at a more comfortable size:
Top of the sheet: current average polling for each party; and prospective number of seats for each party, taking into account the 3% threshold and 50-seat bonus.
Underneath: the results from each recent poll, from Wikipedia.
Just six seats from a majority sounds good for Syriza. But it’s not entirely as good as it may seem:
- The party would still need to get those six additional seats to get to a parliamentary majority, and there doesn’t seem to be an ample choice of partners.
Greek politics is divided both between left and right and between those who support and oppose the bailout packages and accompanying austerity policies. As supporters of the bailout packages, long-time former rivals ND and PASOK found each other in the incumbent government, which was already something of an emergency alliance (and all but killed PASOK electorally). For opponents of the bailout policies on the left and right to find each other in a similar way would be even harder, since they are posited on the respective flanks of the political system.
On the left, there is Syriza and the communists; on the right, the Independent Greeks and the fascists. The fascists are beyond the pale for anyone. The communists, however, if I understand things correctly, aren’t particularly useful either. Stuck in the 1950s, they’re the fully unreconstructed type, best at home in issuing declarative statements in the wooden language of the Soviet era, while waiting for the revolution to come. They might not prove reliable partners in government. An alliance with the populist conservatives of the Independent Greeks seems like a wildcard option, since they do share Syriza’s anti-bailout, anti-austerity stance, but they’re on the brink of failing to meet the 3% threshold.
The alternative is finding allies among the center-left parties PASOK and To Potami (“The River”). The latter party, a center-left outfit headed by a famous TV personality, has apparently teamed up with the pro-business DRASI party, which doesn’t bode well for collaboration in an anti-bailout program. And PASOK politicians would have to make a complete turn-about from their current collaboration in the ND-led government.
- A few percent change here and there could change everything.
Syriza’s lead over ND has eroded from around 7% in October/November to just over 4% now. It seems to have stabilized over the past two weeks, but it’s not a safe lead. Ahead of the May 2012 elections, polls were wildly off, starkly overstating support for the “old” parties ND, PASOK and KKE and equally understating support for the insurgent Syriza and Golden Dawn. In the June 2012 elections, the polls did a lot better, but had ND and Syriza tied going into the elections when ND ended up winning by 3%.
If To Kinima does pass the 3% threshold, this would take away seats from all the other parties, including Syriza, and make the 251 seats harder to get to. Vice versa, if the Independent Greeks would fail the threshold, this would scatter its seats across the other parties, bringing Syriza 3 seats closer to a majority, but deprive it of a potential ally on certain issues.