Sunday Herald: The irresistible rise of the left


By Ian Bell

THE parable of Pasok, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, has not been told often enough.

Greeks know the story: they wrote it. The rest of us, bewitched for months by the triumphs and travails of Alexis Tsipras, Syriza, bail-outs and Grexit dramas, should attend to an instructive tale.

In 1981, Pasok and its leader, Andreas Papandreou, won 48.1% of the votes in elections to the Hellenic Parliament. For the next 28 years the party led and followed the conservatives of New Democracy through the revolving door of power, never once managing less than 38% of votes cast. In 2009, George Papandreou, latest in the dynasty, scored 43.9% and formed a majority government.

This January, as Tsipras swept to victory, Pasok got 4.68%. It achieved fewer than 290,000 votes. It trailed behind the Communists, the Golden Dawn fascists, and ragtag groups of independents. The party whose founders helped to restore democracy after the Colonels, who gave the country a welfare state, free education, and a European standing, learned the first and last laws of electoral politics: history doesn’t matter and there is no such thing as gratitude.

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Picture courtesy of Jonathon Shafi