Greece: PM Mitsotakis wins election but lacks majority – Politics

Greece’s conservative governing party Nea Dimokratia (ND) won Sunday’s elections by a larger margin than expected. According to the projections late in the evening, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ party received 40.8 percent of the vote – and is thus more than 20 percentage points ahead of the left-wing Syriza of his predecessor Alexis Tsipras.

Compared to its 2019 result, ND improved by almost one percentage point. However, she cannot govern alone because, unlike in the past, this election is governed by simple proportional representation – a regulation according to which the strongest party receives a bonus of 50 seats in parliament was abolished by the Syriza government in 2016. The change came into effect on this election date.

Coalition partners are not in sight

Despite his strong performance, Mitsotakis needs a coalition partner if he wants to continue governing this time. Realistically, only the social democratic Pasok would come into question, which at 11.56 percent improved by three and a half percentage points compared to 2019. However, the relationship between the two parties has been strained since it became known in the early summer of last year that the current Pasok chairman, Nikos Androulakis, had been intercepted by the state secret service at times. During the election campaign, Mitsotakis admitted that the wiretapping was a “mistake”, which observers took as a sign of a rapprochement with regard to a possible coalition. A little later, however, Mitsotakis made it clear that he was aiming for a one-man government. And Androulakis demonstratively made himself scarce, once he said publicly that he was fundamentally open to an alliance with the ND as well as with Syriza – but not with their respective top candidates.

A “progressive” government alliance of Syriza, Pasok and several small parties, as Tsipras had striven for, is mathematically impossible. If no government is formed within two weeks, new elections must be called. It is considered likely that this is exactly what Mitsotakis is aiming for: Because in the next election there will again be a – staggered – bonus system that will give the strongest party up to 50 additional seats. Then he could rule alone again. An expected date for new elections was already mentioned on Sunday evening from the ND: June 25th.

Neither the wiretapping affair nor the train accident could harm the conservatives

The conservatives’ strong performance shows that various recent scandals have only partially shaken confidence in Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in their own country. In addition to Pasok boss Androulakis, numerous other politicians, journalists and high-ranking military officials were affected by the wiretapping affair, which the opposition referred to as “Greece’s watergate” – and even a Facebook manager with Greek and US citizenship.

A serious train crash in early March, which killed at least 57 people, sparked a wave of protests and a temporary dip in Mitsotakis’ polls; the catastrophe had highlighted serious deficiencies in the country’s infrastructure and the still rampant nepotism. Mitsotakis appeared contrite and wooed the voters’ confidence in order to be able to continue his comprehensive project for the modernization of the country in a second term. He referred to the country’s generally positive economic data: Greece’s economy has recently grown significantly faster than the eurozone average, the unemployment rate has halved compared to 2013, and the tourism sector is booming even more after it survived the corona pandemic lightly.

Opposition leader Tsipras, on the other hand, pointed to growing inequality in the country during the election campaign and promised to increase wages and pensions. In the event of an election victory, the left could “govern with its own genuine program,” he enthused, alluding to his time in government during the crisis years from 2015 to 2019: “without a memorandum, without a troika, without Schäuble.” After Sunday’s poor election result – Syriza lost more than eleven percentage points compared to 2019 – there are calls for a new leadership in the party.

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