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New Left Review I/108, March-April 1978

Nicos Mouzelis

The Greek Elections and the Rise of pasok

The Greek general election of November 1977 has not only brought profound changes in the political map of Greece, it has also resulted in a configuration of political forces which is unique in the context of European politics. For Greece itself, the exceptional significance of the elections lies in the fact that the ‘liberal versus conservative’ cleavage within the bourgeoisie, which has dominated most of the country’s parliamentary history, has finally given way to a more profound class polarization. For the first time since the Civil War, one can now speak of class divisions having a real reflection in the composition of parliamentary blocs. For Andreas Papandreou’s Panhellenic Socialist Movement (pasok), the major victor (in relative terms), has by its partial mobilization of the rural population and the urban petty bourgeoisie seriously challenged the traditional political formations of the Greek ruling class with their inter-class support. Moreover, the combined electoral forces of the Left gained some 38 per cent of the vote; this means that the possibility can be seriously envisaged that in the not so distant future the Left may come to governmental power through parliamentary procedures (provided, of course, that the army does not step in to interrupt the process). Such developments immediately bring to mind the comparable possibilities in France, Italy and Spain. However, as I shall argue below, the electoral failure of the (Eurocommunist) Communist Party of the Interior, and the presence of strong populist elements in pasok, give a very distinctive profile to the left-wing forces in Greece, different from those to be found elsewhere in Europe. [*] I wish to thank George Dertilis, Nikiforos Diamantouros, Nicos Economou and Elias Nicolacopoulos for their very valuable comments.

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