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General elections in Greece: five things we learned from Sunday’s vote

The winners, the losers, the returning games and what happens next: we have all these topics covered.

1. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis takes the lead with a big win

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his conservative New Democracy party led the Greek elections by a wide margin late Sunday night, according to partial official results.

Mitsotakis, a 55-year-old Harvard-educated former banking executive, won the 2019 election on a promise of business-focused reforms and pledged to continue tax cuts, spur investment and strengthen the economy. middle class employment.

“(Exit polls) show a clear victory for New Democracy and a clear renewal of the mandate to pursue the major changes sought by Greek society,” government spokesman Akis Skertsos said.

Mitsotakis had been consistently leading in opinion polls in the run-up to the election. But his popularity took a hit following a train disaster on February 28 that killed 57 people after an intercity passenger train was accidentally put on the same track as an oncoming freight train . It was later revealed that the stations were understaffed and security infrastructure was broken and outdated.

The latest polls before the vote indicated that New Democracy was likely to have a slim six percentage point lead over its opponents; but with two-thirds of the vote counted Sunday night, New Democracy won 40% of the vote, while rivals Syriza trailed with 20% of the vote.

2. What comes next? another election

Greece’s new proportional representation electoral law makes it difficult for any party to win an outright majority in the 300-member parliament to form a government on its own, meaning Mitsotakis might have needed to find a coalition partner.

However, there are advantages to not doing so, and New Democracy has indicated that it would rather seek a clear victory in a second round of voting and be able to govern on its own.

“We said we wanted to govern purely and simply because it would ensure stability and the way forward. So we have the right to ask that of the Greek people in the next elections,” Public Order Minister Takis Theodorikakos told Skai TV shortly after polls closed on Sunday evening.

If a second election takes place, probably in late June or early July, Greek electoral law will change again, moving to a system that rewards the dominant party with 50 bonus seats and making it easier for it to win a parliamentary majority.

New Democracy sees its best path to government in a second election, expecting to come back on top and claim the winner’s bonus seats.

Ahead of Sunday’s votes, Syriza said it would only try to form a coalition government if it came first. The socialist Pasok party has declared that it will cooperate neither with New Democracy nor with Syriza; while the communist KKE said it would also not cooperate with other parties to form a coalition.

3. The result is a disappointment for Syriza

There is no doubt that this election is a great disappointment for Syriza, and for the former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. He led the country through some of the most tumultuous years of the financial crisis, but struggled to regain the broad support he enjoyed when he swept to power in 2015 on a promise to roll back the measures. austerity imposed by the bailout.

“The matches have both wins and losses. The election result is extremely negative for Syriza,” Tsipras said in a statement on Sunday evening.

“Some time ago I contacted Mr. Mitsotakis and he congratulated him on his victory,” he said.

A 48-year-old civil engineering graduate, Tsipras turned former minnow Syriza into the dominant centre-left group in Greece. He oversaw a painful new bailout deal during his first term, and his second term from 2015 to 2019 saw a rapprochement with bailout lenders and a historic deal to normalize relations with neighboring North Macedonia. During this campaign, he pledged to roll back some previous reforms, expand welfare, and legalize same-sex marriage.

The only prefecture Syriza has won is one where half of the voters are from Greece’s Muslim majority, near the border with Turkey.

4. Greeks registered abroad were allowed to vote for the first time

Greek voters around the world turned out in large numbers for the election, the first time they had been allowed to register to vote abroad.

According to the Home Office, some 18,203 people voted in 35 countries, representing 79.6% of registered voters overseas.

Most of the polling stations were in Germany – in 15 cities – and the Greek ambassador to Berlin, Mara Marinaki, described it as “a solid base for this process, the participation, to become even stronger in coming”.

There were also polling stations in Italy, France, Britain and Belgium, as well as Canada and the United States, with a Greek diplomat in Brussels calling the new voting process a “historic day”.

5. The party that ruled Greece for nearly three decades has made a modest comeback

The party that has ruled Greece for nearly three decades made a modest comeback in Sunday’s vote.

Socialist Pasok, led by Nikos Androulakis increased their vote by 40%. The numbers still don’t look like those of the 80s, 90s and 00s, but going from 8% in the last election to 11.5% in this election is a big step for the party.

Once the dominant force in Greek politics, Pasok was supplanted by Syriza during the financial crisis.

Androulakis, who has been an MEP in Brussels for seven years, has a bad relationship with Prime Minister Mitsotakis, whom he accuses of covering up the phone tapping scandal that targeted Androulakis himself, among others.

But he is also on bad terms with Tsipras, accusing him of trying to poach Pasok voters.

euronews Gt

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