ATHENS – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greeks will go the polls on May 21 to elect a government in a fractious race that’s not expected to bring an outright winner and require a second election.
His New Democracy party’s lead has slipped in polls to only 2.9 percent after being nearly as high as 14 percent before a surveillance scandal and train tragedy that killed 57 people brought disfavor to the government.
“The country needs clear skies … our work continues more boldly and with fewer compromises,” Mitsotakis said during a televised Cabinet meeting that he used to notify voters, the date pushed back after the train catastrophe.
Mitsotakis is facing a tough rematch against the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA – now rebranded the Progessive Alliance – of former premier Alexis Tsipras, who has been sniping at him.
SYRIZA set up a confused election scenario when, in its last days in power before being ousted in July, 2019 snap polls, the government amended election laws to take away a 50-seat bonus in the 300-member Parliament.
Barring a coalition, that made it unlikely for the party finishing first in the elections to gain enough of the vote to former a government outright, Mitsotakis saying he wants to rule alone again, without a partner.
That is seen as requiring a second election early in July as Mitsotakis’ government amended the election laws as well to give the winner in a subsequent ballot a 30-seat bonus in the Parliament.
But Greek media has been wild with speculation about scenarios involving odd fellow coalitions that see the third largest party, the rising PASOK-KINAL center left being a potential kingmaker catalyst.
PASOK leader Nikos Androulakis though was put under surveillance by the National Intelligence Service EYP that bugged his phone – which Mitsotakis withdrew after saying he knew about it, apologizing to his rival.
Androulakis would have to set aside his furor over the incident if he agreed to join with the center-right New Democracy but said he wouldn’t take part if Mitsotakis were Premier in a joint government.
Androulakis also attached the same conditions to joining a SYRIZA-led administration as jockeying for position is already underway with parties in full campaign mode in the wake of the train tragedy.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)