Populism, party politics, and the economic crisis: contrasting the case of Greece with the case of Portugal
Among all South European countries, Greece underwent the most severe economic crisis in the 2010s which to an extent only can be attributed to pre-crisis populist governing policies. Yet the onset of the crisis gave rise to dormant populist reactions, which combined with diffuse political discourse and the political party system. In contrast to the comparable case of Portugal, populism in Greece was reflected in the emergence or strengthening of populist parties on the Left and the Right, the adoption of populism as political discourse by an otherwise radical left-wing party (Syriza), and its rise to power in 2015 on the wave of social reactions to austerity policies. Populism was also manifested in the adoption of populist governing policies during Syriza’s government rule, in coalition with the nationalist right-wing Anel party, in 2015-2019. The spread of populism and its rise to power in Greece are analyzed in the light of the opposite experience of Portugal and are attributed to following causes: legacies of democratic practice after the 1974 transition to democracy, traditions of political culture and the polarization of the party system, in addition to the gravity and long duration of the recent economic crisis which was a catalyst for the sea change in Greek politics in 2011-2019.