The Independent Greeks, the former junior coalition partner of ruling left-wing Syriza, will not contest the July national election, party president Panos Kammenos announced Sunday.
The decision, taken at the meeting of the party’s national council, comes at the heels of a disastrous showing in last month’s elections for the European Parliament, where the Independent Greeks got 0.8% of the vote, coming into 15th place.
In remarks to reporters, Kammenos acknowledged the victory of Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his New Democracy party. “I sincerely hope that (Mitsotakis) will be able to bring about the political change that the people voted for,” he said.
Founded in February 2012, after Kammenos, a right-wing populist firebrand and longtime lawmaker, left New Democracy in protest at the latter’s acceptance of the austerity policies imposed on Greece by its creditors, the Independent Greeks achieved their best score in elections three months later, getting 10.33 percent of the vote and electing 33 Mps to the 300-member Parliament. A month later, in a snap election that followed, the party’s vote slipped to 7.51%, with 20 Mps, but remained the 4th largest.
In the 2014 European elections, the Independent Greeks got 3.46% of the vote, electing one representative.
In the January 2015 election, they were the 6th largest party, with 4.75% of the vote, electing 13 MPs. They formed a coalition government with Syriza, on their basis of their shared hostility to the country’s creditors and their imposition of austerity measures, and Kammenos became Defense minister. The alliance survived Syriza’s turnaround and acceptance of a new austerity package and, in the snap September election, the Independent Greeks slipped one place, to 7th, with 3.69% of the vote, electing 10 MPs.
The alliance was dissolved early in 2019, following the agreement with the neighboring country to the north that changed its name to North Macedonia, with Greece lifting its veto on the former’s NATO membership. Kammenos left his cabinet post, but some of his felow MPs chose to retain theirs, bolting the party instead, leaving Kammenos with 5 deputies. Despite trumpeting his differences over the so-called “Prespa Agreement” with North Macedonia, Kammenos failed to rally the nationalists angry at the deal, as they blamed him for not preventing it.