Κυριακή
14 Ιουλίου 2024

PM decides on May 21 as election date

English

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced at a cabinet meeting Tuesday that the next election will take place on May 21.

The announcement had been expected; initially, the government was planning on an April date, before the deadly train crash on February 28 upended the plans.

What is almost certain is that the May 21 poll will result in a parliament with no overall majority, thanks to a proportional representation system introduced by the previous, leftist-led SYRIZA government. When it regained power, the ruling center-right New Democracy introduced a new electoral law restoring a seat bonus for the winner, although it limited that to 30 instead of the 50 seats stipulated in the law in force until 2019.

With a coalition government seen as highly unlikely, a second election is expected, in early July. But, with the ruling party seeing its lead over SYRIZA shrink in the wake of the rail tragedy, the winner could still end up short of a majority in the second election. Already, there is talk about a third set of polls sometime in September.

At the very least, it looks as if the country will face a three-month, no-holds-barred pre-election period.

New Democracy has enjoyed a lead in the polls throughout its four-year term, although it had to deal with a range of crises, from Turkey’s attempt to push hundreds of thousands of refugees across the border, to the Covid-19 pandemic, to the energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Often, New Democracy’s lead over SYRIZA was in the double digits; just before the train accident it was around 7-8 percent. It has now been almost halved; SYRIZA has not gained, but enough New Democracy voters are now undecided. Uncertainty about the final result has certainly risen.

Mitsotakis has clearly stated his preference for a single-party government; SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and head of socialist PASOK Nikos Androulakis speak of a coalition after the first election but are short on specifics. Androulakis has not decided on a coalition partner, but has stated that he wants neither Mitsotakis nor Tsipras to lead that coalition. 

In any case, the leaders of both the leading parties have been tested in power; Tsipras from 2015 to 2019 and Mitsotakis since. Voters can compare their records and decide on one of them or reject both.

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