European Parliament Elections Critical for Politicians, Not for Greeks

ATHENS  – That was the worry among Greece’s political parties in the June 6-9 elections for the European Parliament for 21 seats of the 720 that Greece will get but was expected to bring a low turnout, perhaps a record.

The balloting came during prime beach weather in Greece and with voters having to decide on candidates picked by the parties, not those who choose to run on their own, and the winners having to show party loyalty first.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose New Democracy won nearly 41 percent of the vote in 2023 general elections that also saw widespread disinterest, said he as hoping for 33 percent, what the Conservatives won in the last European elections.

Major rival SYRIZA leader Stefanos Kasselakis, a Greek-American businessman who took 0ver the Leftists when former leader and one-time premier Alexis Tsipras quit after being routed in 2023, said he wanted 15 percent.

Polls showed Greeks didn’t much care about the elections for a body that is largely symbolic although it also acts on the European Union budget, but the results more important to the parties for prestige and power.

“We are concerned that this time around abstention rates may exceed 50%, perhaps even by a significant margin,” a member of ruling New Democracy told Kathimerini English Edition on condition of anonymity.

A campaign staffer for SYRIZA said much the same although Mitsotakis and Kasselakis, while jockeying for stronger positions and votes, both urged the electorate to turn out.

“Today is a celebration of democracy. We choose the kind of Europe we want to have. Europe has an impact on our lives. The participation of all of us is necessary. I urge citizens to take control of their lives,” said Kasselakis after he voted.

After voting, Mitsotakis said, “It’s a sunny day today and we’re voting for a strong Greece in a strong Europe. I want to emphasize once again that elections are a celebration of democracy and the greater the participation, the stronger our democratic values become.”

Greeks abroad are being allowed to vote this time, through postal ballots although their numbers are miniscule compared to those in Greece and until New Democracy took power and removed barriers the conditions were strict, limiting participation.

“The European elections hold particular significance; over the next five years, very important decisions will be made in Europe. It’s crucial to have a strong Greek voice and representation in the European Parliament, enabling Greece to assert its interests within Europe. We deeply respect and honor citizens who engage in this democratic process to express their own convictions,” said Mitsotakis.

PASOK leader Nikos Androulakis voted on Crete and said, “Our country requires a robust, sincere, and trustworthy opposition to arise tonight, one that could potentially become the next government, countering a regime of impunity and arrogance that overlooks the significant daily struggles of the Greek people.”

He said New Democracy and the European People’s Party, the EU’s leading political group, enforced “severe austerity” in Europe and Greece and said that European social democracy advocates for “solidarity, unity, and shared economic policies.”


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