Τρίτη 11 Ιουνίου 2024

Primacy Effect and Far-Right Gains Highlight Greece's European Parliament Elections

On Sunday, June 9th, Greece, along with all other European Union countries, held elections for the European Parliament. The results were largely unsurprising, though most parties failed to meet their goals. Notably, smaller far-right parties gained popularity, reducing the vote share of the ruling right-wing party. Additionally, voter turnout was notably low, with 58.61% of registered voters abstaining.
Greek ballot papers
A total of 31 parties participated in these elections:
  • ΝΕΑ ΔΗΜΟΚΡΑΤΙΑ - New Democracy
  • ΣΥΝΑΣΠΙΣΜΟΣ ΡΙΖΟΣΠΑΣΤΙΚΗΣ ΑΡΙΣΤΕΡΑΣ – ΠΡΟΟΔΕΥΤΙΚΗ ΣΥΜΜΑΧΙΑ - Coalition of the Radical Left – Progressive Alliance (SYRIZA)
  • ΠΑΣΟΚ – Κίνημα Αλλαγής - PASOK – Movement for Change
  • ΚΟΜΜΟΥΝΙΣΤΙΚΟ ΚΟΜΜΑ ΕΛΛΑΔΑΣ - Communist Party of Greece
  • ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΗ ΛΥΣΗ – ΚΥΡΙΑΚΟΣ ΒΕΛΟΠΟΥΛΟΣ - Greek Solution – Kyriakos Velopoulos
  • ΝΙΚΗ - Victory (NIKI)
  • ΠΛΕΥΣΗ ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑΣ – ΖΩΗ ΚΩΝΣΤΑΝΤΟΠΟΥΛΟΥ - Course of Freedom – Zoe Konstantopoulou
  • Μέρα25 - MeRA25
  • ΦΩΝΗ ΛΟΓΙΚΗΣ ΑΦΡΟΔΙΤΗ ΛΑΤΙΝΟΠΟΥΛΟΥ - Voice of Reason Afroditi Latinopoulou
  • ΑΝΤ.ΑΡ.ΣΥ.Α. – ΑΝΤΙΚΑΠΙΤΑΛΙΣΤΙΚΗ - Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow (ANTARSYA)
  • ΛΑΪΚΟΣ ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΟΣ ΣΥΝΑΓΕΡΜΟΣ – ΛΑ.Ο.Σ. - Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS)
  • ΣΥΜΜΕΤΕΧΩ για την Εθνική Κυριαρχία και την Κύπρο - Participate for National Sovereignty and Cyprus
  • ΕΘΝΙΚΟ ΜΕΤΩΠΟ - National Front
  • ΟΡΓΑΝΩΣΗ ΚΟΜΜΟΥΝΙΣΤΩΝ ΔΙΕΘΝΙΣΤΩΝ ΕΛΛΑΔΑΣ - Organization of Communist Internationalists of Greece
  • Οργάνωση για την Ανασυγκρότηση του ΚΚΕ - Organization for the Reconstruction of the KKE
  • ΚΟΜΜΑ ΙΣΟΤΗΤΑΣ, ΕΙΡΗΝΗΣ ΚΑΙ ΦΙΛΙΑΣ - Equality, Peace and Friendship Party
  • ΚΕΚΑ-ΑΚΚΕΛ ΜΑΖΙ για μια Ελεύθερη Ελλάδα - KEKA-AKKEL Together for a Free Greece
  • ΠΑΤΡΙΩΤΕΣ – Πρόδρομος Εμφιετζόγλου - Patriots – Prodromos Emfietzoglou
  • ΕΝΙΑΙΟ ΠΑΛΛΑΪΚΟ ΜΕΤΩΠΟ (Ε.ΠΑ.Μ) - United Popular Front (EPAM)
  • Κίνημα 21 - Movement 21
  • ΔΗΜΟΚΡΑΤΕΣ ΑΝΔΡΕΑΣ ΛΟΒΕΡΔΟΣ - Democrats Andreas Loverdos
  • Ομογενειακό Δίκτυο Ελλήνων Ευρώπης (Ο.Δ.Ε.Ε.) - Expatriate Network of Greeks of Europe (ODEE)
  • Νέα Αριστερά - New Left
  • ΣΥΝΤΗΡΗΤΙΚΟΙ - Conservatives
  • ΚΙΝΗΜΑ ΕΘΝΙΚΗΣ ΑΝΕΞΑΡΤΗΣΙΑΣ - Movement for National Independence
  • ΕΝΩΣΗ ΚΕΝΤΡΩΩΝ - Union of Centrists
  • Ελλήνων Συνέλευσις - Greeks' Assembly
  • Πράσινο κίνημα - Green Movement
  • Δημιουργία - Creation
  • ΚΟΣΜΟΣ - Cosmos
    and from all these parties only eight (New Democracy, SYRIZA, PASOK, Greek Solution – Kyriakos Velopoulos, Communist Party of Greece, Niki, Course of Freedom – Zoe Konstantopoulou, and Voice of Reason Afroditi Latinopoulou) managed to pass above the 3% treshold and elect elected candidates. 

    A defining characteristic of the far-right parties in Greece is the dominance of a single strong leader. Their politics are typically xenophobic, homophobic, and populist, lacking solid proposals. Despite this, they receive more media coverage than left-wing parties. The "Rule of Man" principle prevails in these parties, meaning that other candidates are usually mere strawmen without any significant ambitions or plans. Consequently, most far-right parties in Greece include the leader's name in their title and are commonly referred to by it. 
    Was ancient Greek written from right to left? - Quora
    Aleph - Alpha - Άλφα

    The rise of smaller far-right parties, combined with low voter participation, suggests that many voters lacked knowledge of the candidates, creating favourable conditions for the primacy effect. In the European Parliament elections in Greece, candidates are listed in alphabetical order on each ballot. Consequently, 11 out of 31 parties had their top-voted candidate's surname starting with an A.

    New Democracy: 1.125.602 votes / Aftias: 310.072 votes (27,55%)
    SYRIZA: 593.133 votes / Arvanitis: 154.519 votes (26,05%)
    Niki: 173.574 votes / Anadiotis: 41.492 votes (23,90%)
    Participate for National Sovereignty and Cyprus: 30.600 votes / Ayfantis: 15.902 votes (51,97%)
    Green Movement: 26.555 votes / Avramakou: 4.048 votes (15,24%)
    KEKA-AKKEL: 20.816 votes / Asprogerakas: 3.750 votes (18,01%)
    Creation: 14.024 votes / Aktsalis: 3.779 votes (26,95%)
    Union of Centrists: 10.933 votes / Argyropoulou: 1.794 votes (16,41%)
    M-L KKE: 6.836 votes / Adamopoulos: 807 votes (11,81%)
    Organization of Communist Internationalists of Greece: 1.973 votes / Andriotis: 190 votes (9,63%)
    Expatriate Network of Greeks of Europe: 963 votes / Aggelopoulos: 108 votes (11,21%)
    The most promiment example of this behavioural bias was the far-right party of Kyriakos Velopoulos. In a surprising turn of events, the far-right party Elliniki Lysi - Velopoulos has garnered significant attention by securing fourth place with 9.30% of the votes. The top-voted candidate boosted his recognition among voters by adding a nickname to his ballot name that resembled a well-known Greek general and far-right politician Frangoulis Frangos. Frangoulis, a former Minister for National Defence in the caretaker cabinet of Panagiotis Pikrammenos, had to publicly clarify that he was not the candidate after receiving congratulatory messages. Obviously the majority of the 110,414 citizens who voted for Frangkos didn't know who they voted for, but they knew the name. Then we have the second elected candidate with Elliniki Lysi.

    The second elected candidate, a 76-year-old pensioner, did not campaign and was elected simply because her name was listed first as her surname starts with an A. Elliniki Lysi received a total of 369,727 votes, with Frangkos obtaining 110,414 votes (29.86%) and Galato Alexandraki securing 51,327 votes (13.88%). Little is known about Mrs. Galato Alexandraki, as even her local MP from the same party is unfamiliar with her. She has no campaign presence, social media profiles, or public CV. The only available image of her is a blurred photo from a local website, which visited her family’s butcher shop. Mrs. Alexandraki, a retired breeder from Koufovouno Didymoteicho, now runs the butcher shop with her son.

    The newly elected Greek MEP Galato Alexandraki
    This behavior can be explained by research from Belgium [1], which found that voters tend to favor candidates at the top of the list, leading to a sequential advantage where the second position benefits over the third, and so on . Additionally, some voters choose the first candidate simply because of their position on the list, without considering any other attributes, a phenomenon known as the primacy effect.

    Further research [2] quantified this effect, finding that being listed first increases a candidate's percentage of votes by an average of 2.33 percent compared to being listed last . This effect is more pronounced in races with high rates of rolloff, suggesting voters knew relatively little about the candidates, which is often the case with smaller parties and low voter turnout elections.

    In controlled experimental studies [3], it was shown that candidates listed first on the ballot generally received a higher percentage of votes than when listed last, with only two exceptions across various contests . To mitigate this bias, some states and countries use random lists. For example, in Ohio, the order of candidates' names is rotated from precinct to precinct so that every candidate is listed first an equal number of times [4].
    [1] P. F. A. Van Erkel and P. Thijssen, "The first one wins: Distilling the primacy effect," Electoral Studies, vol. 44, pp. 245-254, Dec. 2016. https://doi.org/10.1177/13540688211050065
    [2] J. M. Miller and J. A. Krosnick, "The impact of candidate name order on election outcomes," Public Opinion Quarterly, vol. 62, pp. 291-330, 1998. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2749662
    [3] D. A. Taebel, "The effect of ballot position on electoral success," American Journal of Political Science, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 519-526, Aug. 1975. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2110542.
    [4] J. A. Krosnick, "The psychology of voting," 2001. [Online]. Available: https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/40375691/10-The-psychology-of-voting-libre.pdf. [Accessed: Jun. 10, 2024].

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