ATHENS – Growing speculation about when Greece’s 2023 elections will be held – which promises to be a Battle Royale – indicates that it will come shortly before the April 16 Easter, when many families will be in their villages where they vote.
Greek election law requires voters to cast their ballots where they are registered and many families keep their home place, requiring them to travel across the country to make their decisions.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy government has seen its lead cut in half to just under 7 percent in recent surveys with the party he defeated – SYRIZA – sniping about his handling of the pandemic, the economy, Turkish provocations and a spyware scandal.
The main fight will be between them but in its last days before being ousted in July, 2019 snap elections, the Leftists passed a law taking away a 50-seat bonus for the winning party in elections to thwart an easy New Democracy return, although a coalition would be possible with a rival.
That means an almost certain second ballot with a lesser threshold that would still give a winning party 30 extra seats in the 300-member Parliament, but which could mean needing a coalition partner.
That has set up all kinds of wild scenarios about what would develop, as the rising PASOK-KINAL center-left movement has doubled its popularity to near 14 percent and could be a catalyst or kingmaker in elections.
If two elections are needed, seen as a month apart, it would require a caretaker government at the same time that Turkey will have Presidential elections on June 18, leaving a new Greek leadership open to more tensions.
Talk has been about New Democracy bringing in the ultra-nationalist jingoistic Hellenic Solution, which is virulently anti-immigrant and bring its leader, a strident TV pitchman, into a position of power despite winning only 3.7 percent of the vote in 2019, barely above the 3 percent needed to get into Parliament where it has only 10 seats and no power.
Capital.GR, operated by Forbes magazine, noted how Greece will soon enter a hotter preliminary campaign period that’s already essentially under way and said the simple proportional representation system put in place by SYRIZA could also see the Leftists regain power in a partnership with PASOK, the marginal MeRA25 and even the KKE Communists in an odd ball coalition after a first vote.
That’s a remote chance at best and the report said that SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras may be jockeying for a coalition with PASOK or other elements in a second election to oust New Democracy.
The Conservatives term doesn’t end until July 7 and Mitsotakis has repeatedly said he would stay the course until then although that would create a longer toxic campaign period that could set aside everything for politics.
For now, he is engaging in the traditional campaign gimmick of essentially trying to buy votes – a tactic of each government – with handouts and raising the minimum wage, ending a hated solidarity tax, raising pensions and pumping in state aid for electricity, gasoline, fuel oil and pushing supermarkets to set fixed prices on 51 essential staples out of reach for many.
The campaign would almost certainly affect Mitsotakis’ push to get more foreign investors who could wait to see the outcome and as Greece is trying to lure even more tourists in 2023 to further accelerate an economic recovery.