First, the small print.
DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not meant to be interpreted as serious political commentary. In fact, where possible the intention is the exact opposite.
Now onto today's idiocy...
As you may be aware, it's election time in a major European country. I'm not referring to the German one, where they rather boringly didn't give the job of chancellor to the woman with the best cleavage (or at least that's what she claimed in magazine adverts - maybe it was all hype).
I'm referring to an election that hasn't yet happened. One in which the beleagured Prime Minister, whose party's opinion poll ratings are the lowest they've been for some years, looks set to be replaced by the official opposition. Nevertheless the PM is in fighting spirit, defending his government's record and of course promising lots of good things in the future.
I'm sure that by now you will have guessed that I'm talking about the Greek general election that is taking place this coming Sunday.
The Greek system is similar to Britain's. The public elect members of parliament, and the party that has the most seats is the winner. As in Britain, they need to control over 50% of the seats in order to govern. If not, there's always the possibility of a coalition between two or more parties, but this generally doesn't happen.
Since Greece abolished its monarchy in 1974, they have a President who is elected by parliament for 5 year terms. Like the British monarch, the President doesn't actually run the country, but carries out duties as defined by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the party with the majority in parliament, and is a member of that parliament.
Parliamentary elections must be held at least every 4 years, but the Prime Minister can call them at any time. The current centre right PM, Kostas Karamanlis, is 2 years into his second term in office, and it is expected that his socialist opponent, Giorgos Papandreou, will win an overall majority in parliament and replace him. However, polls aren't allowed to be published in the two weeks before the election, so we don't know what the current state of play is.
Bluffers Guide to the Elections
Party: Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK)
Leader: Giorgos Papandreou
Background: Giorgos Papandreou is the son of former Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, who was himself the son of former Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou.
Policies: Will undo all the mess left by the current lot. Will govern openly and without all of the scandals that have plagued New Democracy. Will give ordinary people a better deal.
Party: New Democracy
Leader: Kostas Karamanlis
Background Konstantinos Karamanlis (Kostas for short) is the nephew of former Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis.
Policies: Will continue to undo all the mess left by the Socialists last time they were in power. Will govern openly and with fewer scandals. Will give ordinary people a better deal.
Party: The Communist Party of Greece (KKE)
Leader: Aleka Papariga
Background: Comrade Aleka has been General Secretary of her party for around 20 years.
Policies: Against profiteering. A better deal for workers. Neither of the main parties have the answer.
Party: Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS)
Leader: Giorgos Karatzaferis
Background: Journalist, writer and politician.
Policies: Believe in God and Greece. Right wing. Wants to make Greece great again.
Party: Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA)
Leader: Alexis Tsipras
Background: Youngest of the leaders.
Policies: Wants the people to have a better deal. Neither of the main parties have the answer.
Leader (of the election campaign): Nikos Chrysogelos
Background: The ecogreens may or may not manage to get enough votes to have seats in the next parliament (they currently don't have any).
Policies: All environmentally friendly, unlike the main parties, neither of whom have the answer.
So whoever gets in, they'll have open scandal-free government offering a better deal to everyone. Or something like that. Now you can amaze all your friends with your extensive knowledge of foreign affairs...