ATHENS – Besieged on a number of fronts – soaring inflation, huge electric bills for consumers, prices out of control for food, COVID-19 cases jumping again – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hinted he may yet call snap elections this year.
His New Democracy easily routed the then-ruling Radical Left SYRIZA in July, 2018 polls after the leftist leader and then-premier Alexis Tsipras paid the price for 4 ½ years of breaking anti-austerity promises.
Mitsotakis has repeatedly said he would serve out his four-year term although Tsipras – oddly as the newly renamed SYRIZA is trailing by 8.5 percent in recent surveys – kept pressuring the premier to call snap elections.
Read more: PM Reiterates His Intention to Hold Elections at 4-Year Mark
Mitsotakis now told the state-run ERT TV that, “A case for early elections can always be made,” indicating he may go that route instead of putting the country through parties posturing and electioneering.
He said that could lead to adding that if talk of snap polls persists in the public sphere, it could lead to “Ten months of polarization, tension and a toxic climate” that would be “bad for the country.”
He later told the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) – when asked about elections – that, “This is the last SEV General Assembly before the elections, which are scheduled for spring 2023.”
Read more: The Party Is Over; Elections Are Welcome, SYRIZA Says
That, said Kathimerini, set off speculation he would call snap polls before then especially with Tsipras trying to build a buzz against him with criticism over New Democracy policies, especially the high cost of living.
The paper said the premier could be leaning toward elections in the autumn to prevent any momentum from being built against him and capture another 4-year term although SYRIZA, while in power, changed the electoral system to eliminate a 5o-seat bonus in Parliament for a winning party, likely creating a hung ballot.
With the summer wildfire season looming and worries about a conflict with Turkey – Tspiras is complaining about Mitsotakis’ foreign policy as well – that has led to talk, the paper said, even within New Democracy about cutting off SYRIZA.