ATHENS – After repeatedly rejecting the major opposition SYRIZA’s call for early elections, Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis may be leaning toward calling them to take advantage of building a military arsenal in the face of Turkish provocations.
That was seen boosting his standing after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine made worry rise that Turkey, which covets the return of Greek islands ceded under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne it doesn’t recognize, might be emboldened.
With NATO, the defense alliance to which both belong refusing to intervene over Turkish violations of Greek airspace and waters, and the European Union not having a military, Greece could be left exposed if Turkey makes a move.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has been constantly sniping at Mitsotakis’ handling of the economy and COVID-19 pandemic but his insistence that Greece sending military gear to help Ukraine was “a big mistake,” apparently didn’t jibe with public opinon and could have made him more vulnerable.
Mitsotakis’ government, due to run until July, 2023, has held leads of 10-14 percent in a number of surveys and Kathimerini said the invasion has reportedly set off talk in his administration about calling the polls as soon as the spring.
If he prevailed again, that would give him another four-year mandate and further drive down SYRIZA, but there’s a big caveat: the Leftists, while in power passed legislation removing a 5o-seat bonus from whomever wins elections.
That almost insures a coalition government with SYRIZA in second place poised to try to take advantage and form a co-administration with New Democracy, Tsipras having a history of reneging on his party’s principles.
But waiting in the wings and a possible king maker is the newly resurging center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) with new leader Nikos Androulakis, a Member of the European Parliament.
The elections could be called, the paper said, if the situation in Ukraine stabilizes and Mitsotakis’ push to accelerate an economic recovery succeeds in mitigating the effect of jumping inflation and soaring energy prices.
“As the was in Ukraine is pushing Greece and the world into a clearly different era requiring important decisions on the new security architecture of Europe and on the economy, many believe the government is justified to demand a renewal of the popular mandate,” the report said.
The invasion came after Greece made a $3.51 billion deal to buy three French Belharra frigates and the US State Department okayed a $6.9 billion sale of four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships, in addition to $2.5 billion worth of upgrades to the country’s existing Meko Class ships.
The paper said that polls suggest that Mitsotakis has a “a clearer perspective on the crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion compared to … Tsipras,” further boosting Mitsotakis’ leadership credentials and more pro-western bent.