Blame and Punishment? The Electoral Politics of Extreme Austerity in Greece

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Abstract

Can governments that introduce extreme austerity measures survive elections? Contrary to economic voting expectations, the PASOK government in Greece initially appeared to cope quite well, claiming victory in regional elections in 2010 despite widespread anti-austerity protests. In this article, we interpret this result with the help of a post-election survey, which also covered future voting intentions. The explanatory power of models based on theories of economic voting and blame attribution as well as the electoral impact of the government's representation of the crisis as an existential threat are assessed. Our analysis challenges the interpretation of the 2010 election as an indication of support for PASOK's austerity policies and reveals weaknesses in its support base, which help contextualise its downfall in the 2012 parliamentary elections. The article also underlines the importance of studying the impact of crisis discourses on voting choice, particularly since blame attribution receives little support in this case.

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