The Coalition of the Radical Left ("Syriza") in Greece includes communists, socialists, and environmentalists, reforming socialists and revolutionary communists. It campaigns on a shared platform, but each constituent party retains its own identity. Eight years ago in 2004 it secured just over 3 per cent of the popular vote. Since then, while the established parties of left and right took turns mismanaging the economy, the coalition has grown in popularity. It is now the second largest party in the country, winning nearly 27 per cent of the vote in the election in June this year.
The Greek electoral system combines some majoritarian elements with proportional representation and its particularities no doubt have some bearing on the nature of the Syriza coalition. But I wonder whether reformers and revolutionaries in the English-speaking world, Britain in particular, and England most especially, have something to learn from Syriza's example. The British electoral system is punishingly difficult for small parties to break into. Nationalist parties are strong in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but the big three parties dominate the electoral map in England. After decades of campaigning, the Green Party has managed to win one parliamentary seat. Salma Yaqoob's Respect wins seats here and there, now and then, most recently in Bradford West. But the growing disenchantment with the current political and economic settlement finds scarce expression in the political class or the major media.
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