chapter  12
20 Pages

Greece’s coalition governments

Power sharing in a majoritarian democracy
WithEmmanouil Tsatsanis, Eftichia Teperoglou

Greece’s latest coalition governments are a by-product of the seismic effects of the economic crisis that hit the country in 2010. Up until the onset of the crisis, Greece had one of the few remaining two-party systems in Europe where single-party majority governments were the norm. This occurred despite the country not having a majoritarian electoral system. However, the economic crisis changed the political landscape significantly by introducing a new political divide that cut across the traditional left-right political dimension. This, along with the delegitimization of the country’s two mainstream ruling parties, led to the fragmentation of the party system (Tsatsanis 2018). In the first national election following the initial bailout agreement (in May 2012), no party managed to capture more than 20 percent of the vote. This presented a new political reality that upended a decades-old pattern of party competition, mostly stable electoral behaviour, and single-party governments.