Democracy Digest: Greek Elections and Other Populist Parables

Interpreting New Democracy's victory as punishment for Syriza's failure to deliver on its anti-austerity promises, many correspondents were quick to draw lessons for anti-establishment populists of all persuasions.

"While many, as in Italy, gleefully thumb their noses at the European Union and its rules, once in power the risks of following through on their rebelliousness may corral them from the extremes," write Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Steven Erlanger in The New York Times.

Syriza's defeat "is the loss of those who came to power promising that two plus two would equal 22, of paper promises and policies that harm those that they pretend to protect", says EJ Insight, a publication of the Hong Kong Economic Journal. "The example of Greece is very useful to other European nations."

Calling the result "a parable about populism", The Sydney Morning Herald even wondered if it might inspire other anti-EU populists  — including those in Brexit Britain —  to "turn back to international cooperation".

"Not everyone likes the formula the EU member countries have adopted to tie themselves together but Greece's citizens believe that the price might be worth paying," the paper said.

But was Syriza's defeat really the repudiation of its (left-wing) populist policies that many experts made it out to be?

Writing in Reporting Democracy, Apostolis Fotiadis observes that New Democracy's win was hardly the landslide that many commentators called it, especially when you take away the protest votes from northern Greeks angry at Syriza's backing of an accord to end the country's name dispute with North Macedonia.

In fact, support for Syriza is almost as strong as ever, particularly among younger voters. With a return of two-party politics, this...

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