Tsipras and electoral reform
By Alberto Mingardi
Alexis Tsipras and Syriza have won the Greek elections on a platform that entails, roughly speaking, 12 billion euros of additional public spending. The program (see here) is certainly questionable on many, many points, but it is still a big step forward in the direction of common sense and realism, when compared to the platform on which Syriza was originally established and ran in the last European election (see here).
I would like to point out that one of the original points Syriza coalesced around, i.e., “Change the election laws to a proportional system,” has vanished from their agenda. This was clearly a priority when the party was expected to be far from winning a majority of seats, as is the general rule for new, extreme left-wing parties in most of Europe.
Now Syriza speaks of “deepening democracy” by increasing citizens’ participation, but it seems quite content with the current Greek electoral system. It is a semi-proportional representation with a strong majority bonus: this is why with 36% of the votes Syriza has 149 seats, two short of the needed majority in the legislature. It worked surprisingly well for Syriza, which will govern together with the anti-European right-wingers of the “Independent Greeks.” As far as I can tell, in Greece, a simple majority of representatives is enough to change the electoral law, so Tsipras and his party could rather easily revert to their initial proposition and transform the electoral system in a more proportional direction. But why should they now?