Arab Press

بالشعب و للشعب
Thursday, Jul 25, 2024

Polls open in Greece's first election since spending controls ended

Polls open in Greece's first election since spending controls ended

Polls have opened in Greece’s parliamentary election, the first since the country’s economy ceased to be subject to strict supervision and control by international lenders who had provided bailout funds during its nearly decade-long financial crisis.

The two main contenders in Sunday’s vote are conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, 55, a Harvard-educated former banking executive, and 48-year-old Alexis Tsipras, who heads the left-wing Syriza party and served as prime minister during some of the financial crisis’ most turbulent years.

Although Mitsotakis has been steadily ahead in opinion polls, a newly introduced electoral system of proportional representation makes it unlikely that whoever wins the election will be able to garner enough seats in Greece’s 300-member parliament to form a government without seeking coalition partners.

Greeks head to the polls on Sunday to elect a leader who will have more control over the country's economy for the first time in over a decade.


The winner of Sunday’s election will have three days to negotiate a coalition with one or more other parties. If that fails, the mandate to form a government is then given to the second party. But deep divisions between the two main parties and four smaller ones expected to enter parliament mean a coalition will be hard to come by, making a second election likely on 2 July.

The second election would be held under a new electoral law which makes it easier for a winning party to form a government by giving it a bonus of up to 50 seats in parliament.

A total of 32 parties are vying for votes, although opinion polls have indicated only six have a realistic chance of meeting the three per cent threshold to gain seats in parliament.

Greece’s once-dominant socialist Pasok party is likely to be at the centre of any coalition talks. Overtaken by Syriza during Greece’s 2009-2018 financial crisis, the party has been polling at around 10%. Its leader, Nikos Androulakis, 44, was at the centre of a wiretapping scandal in which his phone was targeted for surveillance.

Polling at around 10 per cent, Pasok would be vital in any coalition deal, but Androulakis’ poor relationship with Mitsotakis, who he accuses of covering up the wiretapping scandal, means a deal with the conservatives is unlikely. His relationship with Tsipras is also poor, accusing him of trying to poach Pasok voters.

The far-right Greeks Party, founded by a jailed former lawmaker with a history of neo-Nazi activity, was banned from participating by the Supreme Court. His former party, Golden Dawn, which rose to become Greece's third largest during the financial crisis, was deemed to be a criminal organisation.

In the run-up to the election, Mitsotakis had enjoyed a double-digit lead in opinion polls but saw that erode following a rail disaster on 28 February that killed 57 people after an intercity passenger train was accidentally put on the same rail line as an oncoming freight train. It was later revealed that train stations were poorly staffed and safety infrastructure broken and outdated.

The government was also battered by a surveillance scandal in which prominent Greek politicians, including Androulakis, and journalists discovered spyware on their phones. The prime minister said he had not been aware of the tapping of Androulakis' phone, and that he would not have allowed it had he known. But the revelations deepened mistrust among the country’s political parties at a time when consensus may be badly needed.

Tsipras has campaigned heavily on the rail disaster and wiretapping scandal.

In power since the 2019 elections, Mitsotakis has delivered unexpectedly high growth, a steep drop in unemployment and a country on the brink of returning to investment grade on the global bond market for the first time since it lost market access in 2010, at the start of its financial crisis.

Two voters cast their ballots at a polling station in Athens, Greece, Sunday, May 21, 2023.


Debts to the International Monetary Fund were paid off early. European governments and the IMF pumped 280 billion euros ($300 billion) into the Greek economy in emergency loans between 2010 and 2018 to prevent the eurozone member from going bankrupt. In return, they demanded punishing cost-cutting measures and reforms that saw the country's economy shrink by a quarter.

A severe recession and years of emergency borrowing left Greece with a whopping national debt that reached 400 billion euros last December and hammered household incomes, which will likely need another decade to recover.

The other three parties with realistic chances of parliamentary seats are Greece's Communist Party, or KKE, led by Dimitris Koutsoumbas; the leftwing European Realistic Disobedience front (MeRA25), led by Tsipras' flamboyant former finance minister; and the rightwing Elliniki Lysi, or Greek Solution, headed by Kyriakos Velopoulos.

The KKE, a staple of Greek politics, has seen a steady core of support around 4.5%-5.5% over the past decade, while Varoufakis' party has been polling at just over the 3% parliamentary threshold. Velopoulos' party elected 10 lawmakers in 2019 and looks set to enter parliament again.

Newsletter

Related Articles

Arab Press
0:00
0:00
Close
Hamas and Fatah Sign Unity Pact Amid Gaza Conflict
Netanyahu Urges Unity Between US and Israel in Congress Speech
Netanyahu Criticizes Anti-Israel Protesters in US
World's Hottest Day Recorded on July 21
Sri Lanka Apologizes for Forced Cremation of Muslim Covid Victims
Hacking Vulnerabilities: Androids vs. iPhones
Israel Conducts First Direct Air Raid on Yemen's Hodeidah Port
Joe Biden Withdraws from 2024 US Presidential Race
A Week of Turmoil: Key Moments in US Politics
US Criticizes International Court's Opinion on Israeli Occupation
Netanyahu Denounces World Court Ruling on Israeli Occupation
Adidas Drops Bella Hadid Over Controversy
UAE Court Sentences 43 to Life Imprisonment Over Terrorist Links
Spain PM Pedro Sanchez Denounces Double Standards on Gaza at NATO Summit
Biden Affirms Commitment To Presidential Race
2024 Predicted to Be World's Hottest Year
Iran's President-Elect Masoud Pezeshkian Reiterates Support for Hezbollah
Biden Insists on Continuing Presidential Race Amid Criticism
US Officials Resign Over Biden's Gaza Policy
Campaigners Push for Emergency Uplift Visa for Palestinians Escaping Gaza Conflict
Netanyahu Criticizes Release of Gaza Hospital Head
UK Government and British Airways Sued Over 1990 Kuwait Hostage Incident
Afghan Women's Rights Declared Internal Issue by Taliban
UK Appeals to ICC May Delay Arrest Warrants for Israeli Leaders
Iran's Presidential Election: A Close Race
Iran Threatens Retaliation if Israel Attacks Lebanon
EU Enforces Sanctions on Hamas Financiers
UN Agency Sued by Israelis Over Alleged Aid to Hamas
United States Bans Kaspersky Antivirus
White House Cancels US-Israel Meeting Amid Netanyahu's Accusations
Muslim Community Leader Criticizes Nigel Farage for Undermining Muslims
Hezbollah Chief Threatens All of Israel Amidst Escalating Conflict
Canada Lists Iran's Revolutionary Guards as Terrorist Group
Iran Sentences Nobel Laureate Narges Mohammadi to 1-Year Prison Term for Propaganda
Japan Considers Sanctions on UAE-Based Entities for Aiding Russia
Israel Rescues Four Hostages from Gaza
Iran Approves Six Candidates for Presidential Election After Raisi's Death
Israeli Commander Resigns After Hamas' October 7 Attack
Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz Resigns Over Gaza Strategy
UN to Add Israel to Human Rights Blacklist
Labour Party to Pledge Recognition of Palestinian State in Election Manifesto
Hamas Rejects Biden's Gaza Ceasefire Proposal as 'Just Words'
Hamas Has Not Responded To Latest Ceasefire Proposal: Qatar
State of Palestine Seeks to Join UN Court Case Accusing Israel of Genocide
Hezbollah Launches Drone Squadron Towards Israeli Military Targets
US-Built Pier in Gaza Faces Setbacks and Repairs
Norway, Ireland, and Spain Recognize Palestinian State
ICC Seeks Arrest Warrants for Israeli and Hamas Leaders
Death of Iran's President Raisi Stirs Succession Race for Supreme Leader
What Happens If an Iranian President Dies in Office?
×