ATHENS – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has ruled out early elections before his term ends in 2023 but changes to Greece’s electoral system mean there could be a series of polls to form another government that likely will be a coalition of two or more disparate groups.
In the meantime, Mitsotakis is expected to again shake up his New Democracy Conservative government as he’s trying to deal with the rising COVID-19 pandemic and being sniped at by the major rival SYRIZA that is far behind in surveys.
Mitsotakis, said Kathimerini, doesn’t want to call early elections in the spring of 2022 and instead will probably turn to moving around ministers as he has done before with no noticeable interest from the electorate.
Under electoral rule changes brought under a former then-Radical Left SYRIZA government, the winners of elections won’t receive a 50-seat bonus in the 300-member Parliament as New Democracy did in winning July 7, 2019 elections and ousting then-premier Alexis Tsipras’ party.
The paper said that means the chances are that there will be two elections, the first under the simple proportional representation system that will award seats in Parliament based solely on the percentage of votes.
SYRIZA made the change, that government’s critics said, so that New Democracy couldn’t have an outright win again and would have to turn to its rival to form an odd center-right-far-left government.
That was the case when SYRIZA brought in the far-right ANEL in a coalition that saw bitter rivals support each other to stay in power.
Under the new system, a hung Parliament with no majority would be almost a certainty based on surveys showing how the two major parties would do in elections, and then fringe parties possibly wooed if a third partner is needed.
To prevent that from happening, there could be another election with New Democracy voting in a return to system where winning parties would get enough of a bonus to possibly form a government on its own.
It would still be difficult to form a single-party cabinet with analysts estimating a winner would need at least 38 percent of the vote to gain a majority in Parliament, just below the threshold New Democracy won in 2019, and any slippage could lower that.
With Tsipras demanding early elections despite polls showing he would take a beating – but gain enough votes for second place to be a coalition partner with his political enemy – the expected spread of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Omicron Variant is seem liming that possibility.
The newspaper, which has a pro-New Democracy bent, said Mitsotakis wants to be judged on a full term and doesn’t want to interfere with a slow economic recovery to which he has turned his attention during the pandemic.
He also believes, the paper said, that a big bump up in popularity for the third-place center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) that’s led by veterans of the defunct PASO Socialists after Member of the European Parliament Nikos Androulakis was elected will subside, rendering it irrelevant.
KINAL nearly doubled its previous standing in polls of around 7 percent and won only 8.1 percent in 2019 and has only 22 seats in Parliament, and the New Democracy hopes, the paper said, are that it will take votes from SYRIZA instead.