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Politics

Mitsotakis and Early Elections: Maybe He Will, Maybe He Won’t

ATHENS – There might be early elections. There might not. It’s anybody’s guess now whether Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will call snap elections in Greece to ward off the major opposition SYRIZA as his New Democracy government is facing a raft of challenges and troubles.

Administration officials, some named and some not, have told Kathimerini in recent weeks that there’s division in the Conservatives camp whether to hold elections before his term runs out in the spring of 2023.

Those who want them said that Mitsotakis risks a long winter of political volatility and the prospect of soaring energy prices going out of sight because of reliance on Russian oil and gas that has been exempted from European Union sanctions over the invasion of Russia.

With inflation at a record high and the cost of food – he backed away from a pledge to consider cutting a 24 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on food although the economy is growing again – Mitsotakis is facing growing sniping from SYRIZA and discontent among the populace.

With worry that easing health measures to lure tourists during the lingering COVID-19 pandemic will see the Coronavirus rise again in September – and force a return to masks and social distancing – early elections backers, the paper said, want him to grab a new mandate before it gets worse.

Polls show New Democracy’s lead that had been 14 percent, sliding to around 8 percent now and there’s growing anxiety that the effect of the war in Ukraine and fear of growing Turkish belligerence could see Mitsotakis cornered.

Erdogan walked away from a NATO summit without talking to Mitsotakis as the Turkish leader vowed, and he got center stage with US President Joe Biden, who said he would push the US Congress to approve the sale of more F-16s to Turkey and money to upgrade Turkey’s Air Force.

That sidelined Greece despite a renewed military cooperation deal with the US and gave Erdogan the kind of attention he craves, returning home he said, with a big victory over Greece, the US and NATO.

A looming problem whenever elections are held is that while in power before being ousted in July, 2019 snap polls by Mitsotakis and New Democracy is that SYRIZA passed a law taking away a 50-seat bonus in the 300-member Parliaent for whomever gets the most votes.

That almost certainly guarantees, the paper said, a second election with a different standard that still could see no party gaining enough of an advantage to form a government and have to form an oddball coalition.

In between, there would be a symbolic caretaker government that could be powerless to deal with Turkish threats and the possibility of a conflict with Greece essentially rudderless.

Even if New Democracy wins, Mitsotakis might have to turn to the rising center-left Movement for Change KINAL-PASOK or even SYRIZA which would make a center-right far-left government that would give Tsipras a major position.

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