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Politics

Holidays Over, Messy Greek 2023 Elections Campaign Scenario Unfolds

ATHENS – It’s uncertain when Greek elections will be held – it must be by July – but the ruling New Democracy government is already effectively being challenged as political rivals step up attacks and start campaigning.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said he would serve out his full four-year term that would mean elections in July but speculation has grown that they could be in April – before or after Easter – or in May.

Whenever they are held, it’s almost certain a first round will end in a hung result because the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, in its dying days before being routed in July, 2019 snap polls, passed a law removing a 50-seat bonus in the 300-member Parliament to the party that comes in first.

That would almost certainly mean that even if New Democracy wins that it would not have enough seats to form a government, requiring a coalition with an odd partner or a second round in which the winner gets a 30-seat bonus.

“The prime minister is consistent in his commitment to hold elections at the end of the mandate” and “he will determine himself what is the appropriate date from April onwards,” a source not named told EURACTIV.

New Democracy’s lead has slipped from 14 percent to about half that after a series of difficulties that Mitsotakis faced, foremost among them his government bugging the phones of rival politicians and journalists although denied that Predator spyware is also being used.

SYRIZA rebranded itself the Progressive Alliance but the left is splintered, the party third in polls, the center-left PASOK-Kinal Movement for Change having doubled its popularity since Member of the European Parliament Nikos Androukis – whose phone was bugged by the National Intelligence Service (EYP) took the reins.

The site said a number of analysts don’t think New Democracy would find a partner to form a coalition although the idea of the ultra-nationalist tiny Greek Solution has been tossed around in the media.

SYRIZA leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras said he doesn’t want a partner although surveys show he has essentially no chance of winning enough seats to take power otherwise and Androulakis is non-committal.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL

Former minister and member of PASOK Katerina Mpatzeli told the leftist radio station “The Kokkino” (Red) that it would be “politically weird” for the party to collaborate with New Democracy with Mitsotakis as its leader because of the phone bugging scandal that targeted Androulakis.

She said the party could work with another leader in New Democracy which would mean the unlikely idea that the Conservatives would dump Mitsotakis in an interim period after elections.

But Androulakis earlier said that PASOK, as it’s mostly called now, should stay united and push for a “progressive” change to overturn the country’s establishment, the site noted.

“These progressive ideas will send New Democracy to the opposition and create a progressive government with PASOK as the protagonist,” Androulakis said without clarifying how that would work for him.

All that comes against the mostly forgotten but ongoing surveillance of politicians – including reportedly those in New Democracy, some of them ministers – as well as business executives among 15,745 being surveilled so far.

Greece’s privacy watchdog ADAE, an independent authority decided to set up a special team to check the records of all telecommunication companies to see if EYP sought the waiving of confidentiality of phone calls for targets.

Despite what Tspiras said, the report indicated that SYRIZA would work with PASOK – which Androulakis said he wouldn’t accept although his party is a member of the European Socialists (PES) and Tsipras is an observer there.

A PES source told EURACTIV in December 2022 that “PASOK is our member, but ideologically, we are on the same page with Tsipras,” further adding to the messiness of the campaign that’s just begun.

In an interview with EURACTIV in June, 2022, Tsipras said he respected PASOK’s choice to keep its distance in the pre-election period but that it would have to consider a more pragmatic stance at some point.

“The EU socialists obviously want a progressive government in Greece with the cooperation of the largest party of the wider Left, with the smaller party in this area of the center-left. This is what they would like; it is obvious,” he said, which would give him the advantage over PASOK.

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