Veto Player and the Greek Constitution, Part 4

von George Tsebelis

For previous parts of this series: part 1, part 2, part 3.

3. How we can shape things up through the electoral system.

I showed you in the first part of my talk that it is difficult to make changes, and in the second that most people who want to make them are looking not just in the wrong place, but also in the opposite direction: they try to increase the number of veto players, when the only way we will get out of the wrong equilibrium is if we decrease them (or bring them closer together). Unlocking the constitution would be one step in the right direction, but it will not help very much if we make modifications like the ones discussed above (if we increase the number of veto players we will reach the same “locking” with different means).

The Greek political system is in serious trouble. This is neither an original nor a novel assessment. The statement can generate unanimous consent, but does not advance our understanding of causes of the identification of necessary cures. I think we would advance our analysis if we focused on the party system. In each of the statements I will be making I may have disagreements, but I hope that by the end of the analysis I will have a large majority in favor of the diagnosis and the proposed cure.

The problem with the Greek party system is that it is centrifugal. Despite the fact that a large majority of people desire a solution to the serious problems I outlined above, the party system responds in the opposite direction: polarization. If we want to analyze this polarization more closely, we will see two features: first, that extreme parties have unusual strength (in the Greek case, particularly on the right), and second, that the other (more moderate) parties are being influenced by these extreme parties (or their own internal forces that feel close to these parties). So, SYRIZA is very concerned about its left side and New Democracy is about its right ...

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