We conducted a survey in both The National Herald and its sister publication, Ethnikos Kyrix, our Greek language daily, in which we asked our readers various questions about last weekend’s elections in Greece. The two different sets of respondents yielded common responses, but there were some differences as well.
In comparing the Greek-English results, we presume that the readers of each edition speak that language primarily, as a result of having been born and/or raised primarily or exclusively during their formative years in Greece versus the United States (or other country in which English is the main language). Though we did not specifically ask that question in our survey, it remains our presumption. Therefore, to some extent, the survey results are a reflection of the cultural differences between Greece-born and America-born Hellenes.
Both groups were correct, by a significant margin, in predicting that SYRIZA would win the election. The Greek readers by an approximately 60-40 ratio, the English readers a little higher: 67-33. On the Greek side, there was a negligible number of votes for PASOK and KKE winning the election, though one has to wonder if that was based more on preference than actual belief that either of those parties would actually win.
Next, we asked for which party the readers would vote. In both cases, New Democracy (ND) won decisively. By 51-20%, the Greek readers chose ND over SYRIZA. Potami scored barely over 8%, as did the choice “Blank Ballot,” which is a voting option in Greece. Then came George Papandreou’s new party, the Movement of Democratic Socialists, with about 3.5%, edging out Golden Dawn, which plummeted as a protest vote party over the past year, the Independent Greeks, and PASOK, once a major party and now barely on the radar.
Their English counterparts varied noticeably: a much wider 69-16 margin in favor of ND over SYRIZA, demonstrating that those on this side of the Atlantic are not so open to the notion of changing horses. Like the Greeks, Potami and Blank Ballot tied for third, and Golden Dawn was a very distant fourth. Papandreou’s new party, and his old one – PASOK – were not even on the English readers’ radars.
As to whether the winner would be able to form a majority in order to govern autonomously, both the Greek and English readers predicted correctly that it would not: by 63 and 57 percent, respectively. But to the extent that one party might be able to do so, both chose – commensurate with their prediction about who would win, if not whom they would prefer – SYRIZA over ND.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The survey results point to a number of conclusions. Most importantly that our readers by a considerable margin differ radically in their politics from Greek voters as a whole. Though SYRIZA won in a landslide (it is possible, in Greece, to win by a “landslide” with less than 50% of the vote, given the relative effect of so many third parties), our readers were not receptive to them – the English language ones even less so than the Greek.
Also significant is the level-headedness of the survey respondents. They clearly distinguished between whom they thought would actually win and whom they would like to win. Quite often, polls are skewed because respondents do not exercise the discipline and intellectual honesty to indicate the difference – and to that extent, Herald readers in both languages did far better than the norm.
Finally, there is the distinction between the attention paid to smaller parties by the Greek versus the English readers. Is that because those who have lived in Greece tend to spend more time researching the details of elections there, including having more knowledge about third parties, or is it that American-born readers, more accustomed to a political culture that tends to be averse to non-major parties, is resistant to thinking outside the SYRIZA-ND box?
Whatever the case, the top choices of our readers in both languages, New Democracy, did not prevail. Time will tell if our readers are behind the times, and the moment was ripe for change, or if they were the wise ones, and Greece’s electorate would do itself a favor by paying attention to what our readers have to say.