In polls for the parliamentary elections, Greece’s Prime Minister Mitsotakis lost votes, but is ahead of ex-Prime Minister Tsipras. Today, the citizens decide at the ballot box. Forming a government could be difficult.
The parliamentary elections in Greece are in full swing. Since the polling stations opened at 7 a.m. local time, around ten million eligible voters have been called upon to cast their votes, including almost 440,000 first-time voters aged 16 and over. The leaders of the two most promising parties have already thrown in ballot papers.
Acting Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said after the vote that higher wages and better jobs would be voted on today – two of his key campaign promises. His challenger, Alexis Tsipras from the left-wing opposition party Syriza, also used the appearance to make a statement. Today is an opportunity to vote out an “arrogant and anti-social government,” Tsipras said.
ruling party is ahead in polls
For the first time in more than ten years, Greeks will have a head of government who can freely determine the country’s economic policy. Because during the debt crisis in Greece, the country had to follow strict austerity measures.
In the polls, the conservative governing party New Democracy is up to seven percentage points ahead of the left-wing Syriza. During the election campaign, both candidates promised to restore confidence in the state. after one serious train accident with 57 dead at the end of February, there were massive protests given against the government. In addition, the ruling party is in one Wiretapping scandal involved, which got rolling last year. During the election campaign, Mitsotakis asserted that he was learning from his mistakes and vowed to improve.
Social issues in focus
Nevertheless, the election campaign was primarily determined by social issues and skyrocketing living costs. Greece was recently able to record growth of 5.9 percent in 2022 thanks to tax policy measures and revive tourism after the corona pandemic. But the lasting consequences of the tough austerity policies are still being felt – young people are migrating, salaries are low.
Mitsotakis’ party has promised to raise the minimum wage to 1,000 euros. He also wants to continue fighting unemployment – the rate has already fallen from 30 percent in 2013 to 12 percent in 2022. He also promises to invest in the health system, which has been heavily burdened by the pandemic.
But poverty is still high and many people do not have enough money for food. “Every year things get worse instead of better,” said 54-year-old Athens native Dimitris Hondrogiannis. “Everything is expensive.” He therefore hopes for a stable government that will help lower food prices. “People can’t make ends meet,” Hondrogiannis said.
Tsipras was Prime Minister from 2015 to 2019 – some of the most turbulent years of the financial crisis. His handling of the debt crisis was controversial. Tsipras promises transformation and change. “No more profits, inequality, nepotism, indifference, arrogance, injustice,” he said at a campaign event in Larisa last week. He accuses Mitsotakis of wasting billions of euros on political allies and his family.
Possibly new elections soon
The first extrapolations are expected at 8 p.m. Forming a government is likely to be difficult due to the deep division between the two major parties and the four smaller parties that are expected to enter parliament.
Today’s election winner has three days to negotiate a coalition with one or more other parties. If this does not succeed, there should be new elections on July 2nd. Forming a government would then be easier because the winning party would be granted a bonus of up to 50 seats in parliament – Mitsotakis could benefit from this.
With information from Jörg Seisselberg and Anja Miller.