|Party||Seats||Politics (US Equivalent)||Austerity?|
|New Democracy||129||Right (Tea Party)||Yes|
|Syriza||71||Far-Left (Socialists & Greens)||No|
|Golden Dawn||18||Far-Right (Neo-Nazis)||No|
|Democratic Left||17||Liberal (Progressives)||No|
Looks simple, right? If you treat the election the way that the rest of the euro zone wants to treat it, the way most of the press wants to treat it, namely as a referendum on whether or not Greece will live up to the austerity terms imposed on them by Deutsche Bank et al, then it's simple. New Democracy + Pasok, the two traditional kleptocratic ruling parties, have 162 seats between them, more than the 151 needed. They form a national unity coalition with a mandate to implement austerity, Antonis Samaras becomes the prime minister, and banksters all over the world breathe a sigh of relief that they won't take any more losses (right away) on their Greek sovereign debt, Eurozone finance ministers stop panicking about the breakup of the euro, the world escapes a huge worsening of the Second Great Depression, President Obama gets re-elected, and Greece turns permanently into the Haiti of Europe.
Not so fast. Pasok's Evangelos Venizelos knows damned well that if he accepts that offer, he takes very nearly all of the blame for everything that happens to Greece afterwards. The only way he can accept that offer and not have his political party completely disintegrate in a couple of years (tops) is if he can stand up in the next election and say that "nobody would have done anything different" and "everybody knew that what we were doing was right." To get that cover, he needs the main left-wing anti-austerity party to flip, he needs Syriza to accept the austerity terms and join the national unity government. Which they've said that they can't do. And that's not going to happen. It's not a terribly well-kept secret that Alexis Tsipras' whole plan for how to bring the socialists to power in Greece is to ride to Greece's rescue after the pro-austerity parties wreck it.
Could New Democracy form a right-wing coalition? New Democracy + Independents + Golden Dawn = 161 seats. But they would need not just one, but both of the right-wing anti-austerity parties to flip on the austerity issue, or they'd have to renounce austerity themselves. Highly unlikely, to say the least. Also, they'd have to get over their (entirely justified) revulsion towards making any concessions at all to Greece's neo-Nazi party, because just New Democracy + Independents comes to only 149 seats, two short. (Now you know why New Democracy wasn't willing to flatly rule out including the Nazis in their coalition.) The odds of either New Democracy renouncing austerity, or the other two right-wing parties accepting it, are basically zero. So no matter how you slice it, New Democracy can't form a government.
So then it's Syriza's turn, as second in line, to form a government. But they can't even get all of the anti-austerity parties to join them; they wouldn't even accept the Nazis as coalition partners, and they're not going to offer. Even if all of the anti-austerity parties agreed to join Syriza in coaliton, that's only 138 seats, 13 short of what they need. So they can't form a government unless Pasok flips and renounces austerity. Which they say they can't do. Stalemate. Unless either Syriza or Pasok blinks, we're right back where we were a month and a half ago.
So, what happens next? I'm not a Greek constitutional scholar, but a casual reading suggests to me that they could call more elections and hope that Pasok loses even more seats to either ND or Syriza. But there's no reason to think that that would work, and the Greek economy is already rapidly circling the drain; absence of an elected government is turning into austerity by default -- by default in the sense of "without choice" and by default in the sense of "by the Greek government utterly failing to pay its bills," without the beneficial side effect of by default in the sense of "out from under Deutsche Bank's thumb."
At least some experts are predicting that what happens instead is that the Greek President appoints an unelected caretaker government, but postpones new elections for months or longer. Given that the pro-austerity parties won a majority of the seats, that probably ends up exactly where Italy is now: an unelected government that perceives itself to have a mandate to impose austerity, to shut down all health care to anybody but the wealthy and all schools except for the wealthy and all road repair except in wealthy neighborhoods and so forth and so on, basically everything but services to the rich and salaries to the military, with every other dollar of revenue raised going to Deutsche Bank.
Greece isn't Italy. If that happens, I expect riots. Big ones. Maybe even full-fledged civil war. If you take away the 50 seats that New Democracy got for being first past the post, if you just look at the popular vote, anti-austerity parties took 52.2% to the traditional kleptocratic ruling parties' 47.8%. The Greek people have proven once before that they will not allow a minority government with military backing to hold them down indefinitely. And this time the generals and the technocrats may not even be able to count on US help. And what having a member of NATO and the European Union going up in flames will do to the global economy may end up making the banksters wish that they'd spread less fear before this last weekend's elections.