Greek election voting begins with the expected leadership of New Democracy
Greece’s ruling New Democracy party is expected to have a clear lead in Sunday’s election, despite a recent scandal, and is unlikely to take power immediately under new proportional representation laws.
According to the latest polls, the center-right New Democracy led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis is at least five points ahead of its main rival, the radical leftist Syriza party, while the center-left Pasok is in third place.
Under electoral laws introduced by the previous Syriza government, a party must win more than 45 percent of the vote to win a majority in the 300-seat Greek parliament. This will probably not be achieved on Sunday, which means that a coalition government may be considered.
According to the Greek constitution, if there is no clear winner on election day, the party with the most votes is given a three-day mandate to form a coalition government. In case of failure, the parties with the second and third most votes will be given the same opportunity.
“Everything will depend on the results of New Democracy tonight,” said Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of risk analysis firm Teneo.
“If Mitsotakis sees that his numbers are low and it is not possible to form a government in the second election, he intends to reach some sort of coalition in the coming days,” he added.
Mitsotakis, whose reputation has been damaged after questions over his handling of a wiretapping scandal and a train crash that killed 57 people, has repeatedly said he wants to avoid a coalition and hold out for a majority government.
This could be achieved by holding a second election under the new electoral law introduced by his government, which gives the party with the most votes in the first election up to 50 bonus seats in the second round.
Greek voters are focused on the high cost of living, with inflation weighing heavily on the population and many at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
But it will be the first election in more than a decade to be held without oversight from European partners. After years of bailouts and austerity measures following the debt crisis, Greece’s economy has made one of the strongest post-Covid-19 recoveries in the Eurozone and will soon return to investment grade.
“Macroeconomic development has certainly been crazy over the last four years in terms of growth, falling unemployment and falling debt-to-GDP,” said Dimitris Papadimitriou, professor of political science at the University of Manchester.
“The other side is the cost of living. . . “Greece’s average wages remain very low despite falling unemployment, resulting in the second worst purchasing power in the EU, only better than Bulgaria,” he added.
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras is still widely regarded as the politician who nearly forced Greece out of the euro in his first year in office after clashing with EU authorities.
“Syriza has not been able to convince voters that they can offer a better economic formulation than what New Democracy is proposing,” Piccoli said.
“Their messaging was confusing and they completely missed the opportunity to use the economic card,” he added.
If a second election does take place, it is expected to be held in late June or early July.